Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where to Have a Beer and Fiddle with Your Girl in Brussels.

"A former brothel that looks like a cross between an opium den and a 1970s porno set..." That's how an old New York Times review paints the picture. I'm unlikely to say it better.

The Goupil le Fol is an intimate, candlelit, unbelievably atmospheric bar near the Grand Place. Sofas line the walls and old records coat the ceiling. Beaded curtains, ancient portraits and low conversation. The modus operandi is French and Belgian chanson. And old-fashioned Wurlitzer blasts Brel and his crooner contemporaries at high volume – a powerful change of mood from the '60s American oldies one hears in too many Belgian beer cafés.

Sadly for us this place is not really beery at all. On a recent visit the choices were Jupiler, Duvel or Belgoo. An easy choice – the last one is a refreshing blonde made by independent brewer Jo Van Aert at the Binchoise brewery. Maybe not a showstopper but highly drinkable.

Otherwise the Goupil mainly pushes a selection of fruity, sticky-sweet wine cocktails. As far as I can tell, the main purpose is to take your best girl here, ply her with these girl-drink-drunk concoctions, and take her upstairs for some canoodling. I'm not joking. I'm told that Brussels teens have been going up there to bump cheeks for years.

Hmm. I may have just crossed some sort of line. It reminds me of a sage lesson from one of my old journalism professors: Do you know why sex and sells both start with S?

Because sex sells.

Infallible logic.

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