Amadeus Spare Rib Restaurant
A veritable gem in the landscape of Flemish folk cuisine, spare ribs restaurant Amadeus has become an institution, and deservedly so. Their successful formula has led to the establishment of four such restaurants across Flanders, and the din present most nights in every one bodes well for the eatery's future.
As with most restaurants worth a visit, Amadeus’ elements work well together. In this case, the diner is taken back to the 1930s and 40s, and the trip is a pleasant one. Woodwork abounds, from the chairs to the ceiling and everywhere in between – such as between coloured glass arrangements and the wall-to-wall mirrors, which also serve as writing surfaces for the day's suggestions. Melancholy Edith Piaf and fellows serenade softly in the background.
Cheap red-and-white chequered tablecloths keep things from turning posh, but that is the point. This small chain is folksy. The clientele ranges from troupes of teens to gaggles of grey-hairs and every combination in between. No pretentious place settings, and the result is better for it.
Amadeus' claim to fame is the spare rib à volonté (all you can eat), widely considered the best in Belgium. Ribs are presented with a side salad and a jacket potato, and additional portions of any of them can be requested until one's buttons burst. The ribs can be eaten as served or doused in a delicious dark syrup, and the potato is flavoured with a home-made, orange-flavoured herb butter.
Though the waiter's attention is sometimes hard to catch, the diner really can order slab after slab. The additional portions are half-size, though, and occasionally a little on the dry side. Best to request a juicy one.
While the spare ribs and accoutrements are stellar, it is fathomable that one might want to try something else. For those eccentrics, the menu also features other grilled meats, lamb cutlets, grilled salmon, Ostend fish pan, etc. Done with dinner? Then deposit those bones in the tin bowl, wipe your fingers clean and prepare for dessert: chocolate mousse or rice pudding accompany the rib dinner, but ice cream, apple cake and crème brûlée are also on the menu.
In Ghent, home to two of the four branches, one finds an Amadeus in the city's culinary heart, the historical Patershol district. The sister restaurant is also located in the downtown area, this time in a famed rederijkerskamer (Chamber of Rhetoric) on Goudenleeuwplein.
Antwerp's is just a hop, skip and jump from the Scheldt waterfront in Sint-Paulusplaats. The Brussels establishment, meanwhile, changed its name to Amadeo in order to avoid confusion with another eatery in the area called Amadeus. This last stop is also located centrally, between the Beurs and the Vismarkt.
Open: daily, 18:30 to 23.00
Spare rib menu: €19,75