ONCE UPON A TIME... AUX ARMES DE BRUXELLES
The history of the Veulemans family in Brussels began at the beginning of the century. In 1902, at the tender age of 14, Calixte Veulemans left his small village of Limbourg, Hoeleden. Upon arriving in the capital, he worked as a waiter in several "cabaret cafés". Later he was hired as a kitchen steward at Friture Henri, 1 Rue Rempart des Moines, which he took over a few years later and renamed Friture Henri "Chez Calixte". He quickly learned all the secrets of the trade, both in the dining room and in the kitchen. Kind, cheerful and debonair, he did not take long to forge a network of friends and relationships.
In July 1921, this bold and brave young man bought the property at 13, Rue des Bouchers, an establishment that already bore the name "Aux Armes de Bruxelles". This neighbourhood tavern had hosted the coachmen from a former post house on Rue de la Fourche, hence the name referencing the capital city's coat of arms. The devilishly hard-working Calixte rapidly turned it into a high-end restaurant. At that time, mussels were transported by barges along the canal. They did not arrive on a daily basis. Calixte solved this problem by working out a deal with a Dutchman from Yerseke to arrange for mussels to arrive daily by lorry. In 1921 he invented the fashion of serving mussels at the table in individual pots. This habit went on to become a colourful symbol of our country. Calixte's creative and commercial genius did not stop there. He also invented "escargot-style mussels", a purely Belgian term that refers to a plate of mussels cooked in the oven with garlic butter.
A top destination for fine dining, this deeply historic restaurant has hosted many celebrities, who often became loyal patrons through the years.
King Leopold III visited once a month to dine on Sole Meunière and a plate of mussels in the company of his aide-de-camp.
Artists passing through the Belgian capital always enjoyed a stop at Aux Armes de Bruxelles. Jacques Brel, Pierre Brasseur, Fernandel, Michèle Morgan, Danielle Darrieux, Michel Simon, Toots Thielemans, Johnny Hallyday…