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“Paella in Brussels”

La Cueva de Castilla
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Ranked #362 of 3,908 Restaurants in Brussels
Price range: US$29 - US$37
Cuisines: Spanish
Dining options: After-hours, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: After-hours, Reservations
Reviewed 21 June 2014

Paella may originate from Valencia, but this Castilian restaurant is quite possibly the best place to head to if you'd like to enjoy paella in Brussels.

Situated on Schaarbeek's main square across from the town hall, the restaurant has a rustic modern feel and remains a small-scale operation with about 10 tables. Fortunately you won't find any of the unnecessary memorabilia and decorations, instead you'll probably appreciate the more somber atmosphere even if the dim lighting is at times a little troubling (I like to get a clear view of what I am eating, though when the food hits the mark my taste buds are usually a good alternative to sight).

The chef, who is also the owner, combines Spanish cooking with a more traditional Belgian/European dining experience. So you get Spanish food in the more standard starter, main course and dessert format, rather than multiple dishes in the common tapas style. You'll enjoy the 3 course menu for 44 €, though a number of dishes come either as a starter or as a main, so if like me you're intent on sharing a paella (two people minimum) then you can always go for that mouthwatering main course as a starter.

There are also a number of suggested starters and main courses which change regularly based on availability of products and what is in season. Last I visited we enjoyed calf's brain and beef tongue from the suggestions and were most pleased. In the past I've also had the pork trotters and lentil dishes, all of which are a really enjoyable way to start the meal.

'Sharing is caring' says my partner, so paella for mains hits the mark, both food wise and on a personal note - enjoy!


Note: interestingly they are open Saturday evening's on the first and third week of the month. So weekdays may be your best bet. As mentioned, this is a small place so best you book table in advance.
Service here has always been discreet yet very friendly. The best innovation last I went was the valet parking service, a godsend considering the pain it was trying to park around there without.

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Thank Gregory_Cornwell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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18 - 22 of 175 reviews

Reviewed 7 April 2014

I ordered fish with a side of vegetables and lentils. The fish was over cooked, had some strange creamy sauce and everything was covered in oil. Lentils too salty and vegetables dripping in oil. I dont usually complain even when i dont like the food, but when the waiter asked me if i enjoyed my meal, my naive honesty blurted out and i said....well not so much...with an apologetic look...
BIG MISTAKE! 10 minutes later I have the chef towering over me demanding i explain and justify why i did not like his food. Stating statistics on how many people liked his fish, trying to use my boyfriend as back up asking him if he liked his meal (which was lamb so no comparison possible) and accusing me of only liking boiled over cooked vegetables...basically saying i had bad taste and could not appreciate his cooking. His attitude was getting so uncomfortable for me I asked him to stop talking to me and give me the dessert menu. Then having had my appetite completely ruined, we decide to ask for the check. ......but no.....chef comes back again, and has another melt down, demanding explanations and moaning about the fact that i would talk about my experience. I then very firmly asked him to let us finish our glass of wine and to stop talking to me.
So...if you want to have a nice evening in this restaurant, please do not provide feedback about the food, which may be good (I used to be a regular customer), but when it is not good, not only do you have the bad taste of the food but you get intimidated by the chef.

He did give me a voucher for a meal for 2, which i will be giving away as I do not take well to being intimidated by an arrogant chef.

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4  Thank 587rmk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cueva C, Gérant at La Cueva de Castilla, responded to this reviewResponded 8 April 2014
Google Translation

Bonjour Madame, avant tout je suis désolé de répondre en français, mais mon anglais n'est pas parfait et je voudrais tout de même vous remercier pour votre visite dans notre établissement.
Je me souviens parfaitement de notre dialogue et suis profondément attristé que le repas n'est pas été à votre goût, et croyez moi qu'avec tout le respect que je porte à mes produits et clients, j'en suis le premier désolé.
Si je vous ais paru un peut 'arrogant' mais toute de même respectueux, j'en suis également désolé, peut-être que nous les cuisiniers faisons un métier super stressant et travaillons constamment sous pression, mais croyez sincèrement que mon but n'était pas de vous froisser, mais tout simplement de comprendre ce qui vous avais déplus.
Si je vous ais remis un chèque cadeaux, c'était dans l'intention d'avoir le plaisir de vous accueillir à nouveau afin de vous satisfaire vraiment.
Recevez cher Madame mes salutations les plus respectables.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 March 2014

there was a time when all spanish restaurants in Belgium belonged to inmigrants. Years after they all retired and new cooking generation has showed up. La Cueva de Castilla is a good example. We had razors (similar to long clams) thta were excellent and then I choose the sword fish with a preserve sauce. Decent food at good prices and good selection of wines by the glass. The restaurant is in Scharbeek, a 19 th century neibourghood not really know but by locals, and it is worth a visit to watch the old maisons de maitre build during the Belgian Congo colonial times. Be careful: they do not open during weekends.

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Thank fran07Belgium
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 October 2013

I have visited this restaurant ample times since I moved to Schaarbeek since 2004, and this with friends, with family, for business and in couple, and have never been disappointed. At the time already one of the most acclaimed Spanish restaurants in Brussels, I have experienced continuous high quality and an excellent price/value ratio throughout. The owner, who is also the chef, changed the menu somewhat 2 years ago and has since then further refined the dishes and his cooking. He manages to combine a clear Spanish identity with more traditional Brussels/Belgian experience (starter - main course - dessert) as well as local ingredients, so do not standard expect to be confronted to a vintage Spanish tapas-style dining experience, although this is also possible on request. Also, my girlfriend is a vegetarian and the chef continues to surprise her (do not hesitate to mention you are vegetarian at the time of reservation - preferably a day or so before - and the chef will certainly create a special starter/main course going beyond the suggestion on the menu). On top of that, unlike many chefs and restaurants in Brussels (and we visit a lot of other restaurants), vegetarian really means vegetarian so do not expect to find unexpected animal products (fish stock etc.) in the dishes! Also, there are always 3 starter and 3 main course suggestions which change every 2 weeks or so, linked to seasonal availability of products (e.g. mushroom varieties), so one does not get bored when visiting frequently. One reality is however that is remains a small-scale operation so when the restaurant is full with visitors arriving more or less at the same time, waiting times can be a bit on the higher side... but the coziness of the place and the friendliness of the staff and chef largely compensate. At least you know that the cooking will not be compromised by time pressure... and the view of the Schaarbeek town hall facing the restaurant never bores of course. La Cueva, despite being an obvious and evident choice given the proximity to our home, continues to be a place we regularly visit.

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2  Thank Michael_070978
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 August 2013

We are regulars for many years already; by far the best place to eat out in this part of Schaerbeek.

1  Thank Piotr K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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