While there’s plenty of chic, trendy and popular eateries around Brussels – places where you can spend long hours indulging and unwinding – sometimes all you want is a quick fix. A bite to eat that’s fast, fresh, relatively inexpensive and that doesn’t come in a cone (I’m a fan of frites, but there’s a time and a place for them) or involve a waffle that is heaped with mountainous layers of cream, butter and milk-laden chocolate.
EXKi (various locations around Brussels) is a healthy “fast food” joint that focuses on providing organic, local and eco-friendly food in a “serve yourself” environment. Each café/store is run on green energy, and sustainable development is taken quite seriously as all of EXKi’s initiatives and commitments are rooted in the four cornerstones of health, partnership, environment and work.
Also in line with their sustainable development practices, EXKi seeks to pass on their zeal for environmental awareness and participation by offering customers a Green Card that rewards eco-friendly behaviours such as re-using paper bags and bamboo cutlery or biking to EXKi. Looking at their social corporate responsibility strategy – on a superficial level – they score pretty good marks.
However, we’re interested in the food now aren’t we? So let’s get on with it.
EXKi offers everything from salads to sandwiches and soups to quiches. There’s plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables available (seasonal), as well as sweet endings that include cakes (cheese and fruit), cookies, and treats that will keep the Intolerants happy such as flourless chocolate cake (gluten free only) and dark Fair Trade chocolate for those who can’t put up with dairy.
All food at EXKi is prepared fresh every day and is void of artifical flavourings and/or preservatives. The menu changes according to season and ingredients are listed on the packaging, which allows allergy-prone (or food-concious) customers to make smart choices for their meals. The beverage selection includes natural energy drinks and kombucha alongside staples like water, fresh juice, tea and coffee.
Today my Brussels buddy (my amazing and ever sprightly mother) and I had had a full morning walking in the underbelly of an old cathedral and tasting chocolate at some of Europe’s leading chocolatiers (patience…those posts are a coming). By mid-afternoon we were famished and wanted something to put in our bellies without making ourselves too full to eat the copious amount of leftover squash/carrot soup sitting at home. We were planning to have Asian, but came across an EXKi in Rue Marché aux Herbes and it was a done deal. Their fridges were stocked, there were tables free and free Wi-Fi was available.
My mother (an unapologetic dairy and gluten imbiber) wafted between a salad and soup, but settled on an open faced sandwich with mushrooms, a sprinkling of parsley and melted cheese. I, on the other hand, selected a cold lentil, green pea, baby onion and artichoke concoction that was fresh and portioned perfectly for my level of hunger.
We enjoyed our lunch, as well as the chance to rest our feet and reset our batteries. Service was swift, and since we were responsible for choosing our meal and cleaning up our mess we were in and out in about 30 minutes flat.
Revived, re-energized and ready to continue turning Brussels inside out.