And there’s a definite tip of the hat to her home country on the menu, which includes both breakfast foods and lunch classics like the BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich) and traditional American cheeseburger.
My friend’s in the mood for an early lunch, I for a late breakfast. So she orders a tuna melt, and I opt for the sunny-side up special. While we’re waiting, we sip two double-shot lattes that come with little chocolate brownies.
The tuna melt is two ultra-thick slices of brown organic bread, lightly grilled and covered in a smooth, sweet-sour mixture of tuna, mayo, capers and spring onions with melted cheddar cheese on top. Next to this is a pile of fresh rocket salad, grated carrots and creamy vinaigrette.
I get a basket filled with a crispy croissant and two types of organic bread, perfect for soaking up the golden runny yolks of the two eggs. These come with crispy bacon strips and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, plus another coffee (or tea). Our bill for two is €25.
As it gets closer to noon, the room starts filling up with lunching colleagues, and we are impressed by the communal feel of the long table. As it turns out, Farine’s makes good use of this table during its weekly salons.
A salon, according to Wikipedia, is “a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation.”
The central idea of Farine’s salon is to combine conversation and good food. It begins at 18.30 with a simple drink (wine, beer, cola). At 19.00, people line up for the buffet – two choices, one always vegetarian – and continue serving themselves until the food is gone. At 20:00, everyone orders coffee or tea before switching spots at the table and continuing the conversation.
The topic of the salon changes every week, but it is a consistently lively, engaging and unpredictable evening, as the group consists of (up to 16) expats and locals who are meeting one another for the first time. The cost is €22 per person.
The next salon in English is on 17 April, and the theme will be “Attraction: defining beauty in 2012 and beyond”. Reserve your spot in advance with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vlaamsekaai 40, Antwerp; 0422.214.171.124
Sat-Thurs 8.00-16.00; Fri 8.00-20.30; salons on Tuesday nights
€22 per person (salons)
Cosy lunch and breakfast café, plus weekly salons fuelling lively conversation