Not far from Brussel's Stock Market district, and using the same Bourse Metro stop, stands the tavern Le Cirio. The 19th century interior design features ornate dark wood carvings throughout. The right side of the room hosts a bar but only table service is available. Furnishing consist of small lacquered wooden tables and cushioned chairs. The walls and center space feature upholstered red bench seating, with small mirrors embedded throughout the nearby walls. The walls display marionettes in illuminated glass enclosures along with other curios and drinking vessels of crystal, silver and pewter. Mellow French language CD tunes bathe the room.
Solid food such as Sandwiches, Toasts, and Salads run 160 to 320BF ($3-$6 USD). The liquid refreshments lineup consists of a totally bottled selection; 22 Belgian, one Danish, two from Lumembourg, and four from England. Prices range from 75 to 130 BF. The 8% Karmeliet Tripel is bottle-conditioned and comes in a 33cl bottle sporting a freshness date. A hazy gold, this medium-bodied brew exudes the expected Belgian yeasty esters accompanied by complex fruity flavors that edge out the malt for flavor supremacy. Overall, a smooth and very drinkable brew. The Cuvée de Ciney "blonde" is a clear amber color with traditional Belgian aromatics. This 7% brew is light-bodied and allows the yeast flavors to dominate at the flavor profile at first, before the malt makes a resurgence in the finish. The 25cl bottle is freshness dated. The 12% Bush is a clear dark amber with an estery aroma and very sweet (candi sugar) flavor. Medium-bodied, the very alcoholic finish offers a great climax to the smooth flavor experience. The lineage of the .33 liter Gordon XMAV bottles is complex. Apparently contract brewed in Edinbourgh for NV John Martin SA and imported through Antwerp. The 8.8% brew is extremely malty with an intense dry, malty flavor, full body, thick creamy mouthfeel, and short dry finish.
The air in Le Cirio is relatively breathable, with the crowd male and French-speaking. Don't expect amenities such as wheelchair access in these chic taverns but they are the place to see and be seen while sipping some truly fine beers. Hours are 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - March