Tope Restaurant

The rooftop vibes of Tope Restaurant, at the top of The Hoxton, Brussels are nice - but the food has room for improvement.

The challenging thing about my experience at Tope Restaurant at The Hoxton, Brussels, is giving grace that it was the hotel’s opening night. Also, I’m from Los Angeles, which has some of the absolute best Mexican inspired food I’ve experienced. So, with those very clear biases in mind, dear reader – this is my take on Tope.

First, came the awkward experience of standing next to the host stand, trying to figure out WTF was going on. A seating host was not to be found. Instead, I stood there for about five minutes and then decided to ask a waitress if I needed to seat myself or wait to be seated.

She said seat yourself. I walked outside to see how the indoor / outdoor vibe sat with me. Yes, there was a view of Brussels. But, because of the location of the hotel and the skyline, it was giving brutalist Germany vibes. Deciding instead to sit inside, away from the cold I found a table and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Until I caught a waiter and asked if I could have a menu.

When he arrived with a menu in hand, he said that the kitchen was closed but I could still order drinks.

Now, this was not something that I wanted to hear – at all. I’d survived dealing with the Brussels airport. Literally survived the shock and fear for my safety of Brussels-Nord metro station stop. I’d made due with Edinburgh restaurant kitchens closing at the WTF time of 8:30pm. But, now I was in Central Europe. I wanted food – regardless of if it was 10:20 and the kitchen closed at 10. And, I wanted it as soon as humanly possible.

I started by ordering a HIBISCUS COSMO (Ketel One Citron, Cointreau, hibiscus, TOPE sour, orange bitters, flamed orange). My waiter said that he would negotiate with the kitchen to see what food items I could order. When he returned back, a few minutes later, he said that the GUACAMOLE (Blue corn totopas) and the CHILES RELLENOS (filled with cheese and picadillo) were the only two items available.

Reluctantly, I ordered them.

A few minutes passed and I tried to become content with the idea of dinner being a fried cheese dish. Until I noticed some confusion with platters that the kitchen sent out. I saw a plate of tacos and waiters having a conversation about it. Well, I was extremely happy when my waiter returned to my table, with a plate of the VALENTINA (Slow-cooked chicken, pink onion, guacamole), asking if I wanted it. Immediately, I said yes and cancelled my order of the previous dish.

Slowly, foods and my drink arrived at my table. Now, again – this could be because of opening weekend. But, for the amount of guacamole you receive, you need more chips served with the dish. I had to ask for more chips – and salt. The dish was mid and simply tasted of smashed avocados. Which was not my desired flavor profile, at all. Again, I live in Los Angeles and might have a bias. But, it was what it was.

The tacos – on the other hand – were decent. Were they the best tacos I’ve ever had? Not by a long shot. But, did they solve my hunger issue and leave me satisfied? I would have to admit, yes.

However, if you find yourself at The Hoxton, Brussels and are torn between enjoying the rooftop elements of Tope vs the first floor restaurant of Cantina Valentina, without hesitation – eat at Cantina Valentina.

Sure, Tope is a vibe. But, a restaurant cannot survive on vibes alone. It need to back it up with service and worthy food.

Frankly, Tope isn’t there yet.

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