On the holidays I used to spend at the Belgian seaside with my grandparents, we often frequented bistros or brasseries, as we say. Not as much for lunch or dinner – my grandma usually cooked for us – but for pancakes and ice creams. Outside on the terrace when the weather was nice, inside in combination with a cup of hot chocolate when the weather was Belgian. We'd never been to Bistro Mathilda in Oostende, though.
At the bistros we went to, the furniture usually consisted of dark wood, the interior decoration of flower patterns slightly washed off by the years. Average age of the clients: 70 – that is if you didn't take into account the groups of grandchildren they sometimes brought along.
Lunch at Bistro Mathilda
You can imagine I didn't really know what to think when Tourism Oostende suggested I'd have lunch at Bistro Mathilda during my day trip there. One quick look at an article my friend Alison from Cheeseweb wrote about this place showed me I was in for a treat though.
A bit of background
Bistro Mathilda used to be a classic bistro serving things a lot of bistros at the Belgian coast serve, like steak tartare and shrimp. Over the years they have evolved to serving a combination of the classics and more modern dishes in a gastronomical (read: nicely presented) way. The menu also clearly makes a distinction between the “classics”, “old style” dishes and other main courses.
There signature dishes at Bistro Mathilda are the earlier mentioned steak tartare, which they prepare at your table with the ingredients you choose, and their Tatjespap (some kind of mashed potatoes) with shrimp.
On the menu
Aside from an à la carte option, Bistro Mathilda also offers different menus. I tried the “Discover and taste” menu (€35) which consisted of a starter, a main course, and dessert. Both for the appetizer and the main course there were three option, one of which was the suggestion of the week. Both also had a vegetarian option.
Side note: Bistro Mathilda isn't a vegetarian restaurant, but they do take veggie food to a gastronomical level by presenting it in the same nice way as “regular” meat and fish courses are often presented. Below you'll see that they do a pretty good job at this!
While I was deciding what to have, I was brought a delicious aperitif with some bites. I usually don't drink alcohol, but I didn't have to either as Bistro Mathilda had an alcohol-free aperitif made out of elderberry syrup, soda, and lemon. Very nice and refreshing.
As a starter, I chose the vegetarian sushi with avocado, carrot, pepper, ginger and soy sauce. It was light and tasted as good as it looks.
Next up – with just the right amount of time in between the two courses, I should add – was the vegetarian tofu with risotto, puff pastry, beetroot, pumpkin, and walnuts.
I'd actually never had tofu before and have heard from other people that it's something that doesn't taste that strongly and thus should be well prepared to be really good. Well, this tofu definitely was well prepared and I loved the softness of it in combination with the more crispy pastry. Also, the mashed beetroot was divine.
And then it was time for my favorite part of every meal: dessert! There was only one dessert option for the Discover and Taste menu and it said “mini Boule de Berlin”, so I just suspected a plate with a mini Berliner. What I got, though, was this:
I know, right! Yups, those two drops with heavenly pudding running out of them are the Berliners (two of them!), but there was also some kind of brownie, a very fresh tasting sorbet and a strip of delicious chocolate. All of that combined with a nice cup of tea made for the perfect closure of my lunch.
Get your butt over there.
Bistro Mathilda (website only in Dutch and French)
Leopold II laan I, Oostende
The place is always full, so I recommend making a reservation.
Planning to stay in Oostende for more than just a meal? Check out these five fun museums in Oostende.
Where to stay in Oostende
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Tourism Oostende paid for my lunch at Bistro Mathilda. Partnerships like these allow me to travel more but will never affect my opinion on the things I do. The links to Booking.com and TripAdvisor are affiliate links. If you book a stay through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting the site!