Fancy a pint at the bar with some caviar toasts while watching the game? Nobody will blink an eye, because here you can do as you like! Welcome to ‘t Werftje, a traditional fishermen’s bistro located along an abandoned quay in Zeebrugge, in action since 1905 – making it one of the oldest restaurants on the coast. No frills, just a shack inviting you to have a blast, with whole lobsters aplenty and an ‘80s soundtrack – because for owners Mike and Herlinde De Preem, backed by their son Eli, atmosphere is everything. On the menu: Zeeland oysters; an orgy of shrimp croquettes, all 10 of which are best gobbled up with your hands; a North Sea shellfish platter that’s fit for a king (oysters, crab, langoustines, clams, whelks, razor clams, gray shrimp, etc.); or bling-bling blinis with sour cream and Imperial Heritage caviar. And since one of the house rules assures that « Whoever falls in love with the sea must endure its salty kisses, » don’t forget to wear a Niet Sturten (« Don’t drool ») bib as you smooch a lobster straight from the tank, slathered in herby butter and with an oyster béarnaise sauce, or ‘t Werftje style, doused in walnut oil, chardonnay vinegar, harissa and fresh herbs. // Kiko Zushi
FEELING THIRSTY? A very sage menu: a Loire Gamay from Marionnet (€8.20 a glass, €45 a bottle), Le Clos des Messieurs, a Reuilly white by Claude Lafond (€7.50 a glass, €43 a bottle), and for something a little funkier, Glou, a skin-contact Ardèche Gamay from the Ferme des 7 Lunes (€75).
PRICE: Fines de claire oysters €16 for six, tapas €15 to €34.90, croquettes €4.60 to €5.40, grilled lobster €55, shellfish platter €43, kids’ dishes €2.70 to €12, desserts €5-12.
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