In early September, we took a little day trip to Maastricht, in the Netherlands. Partly because we wanted to visit a new place and partly because I specifically wanted to visit the cool bookstore there that I had read about in an article on beautiful bookstores around the world. Our trip was great and someday I will get around to writing about it, but this post is all about another cool bookstore. When my friend Chrystin saw that I had gone to the Boekhandel Dominicanen bookstore, she sent me a great article on other great bookstores around the world — including one in Buenos Aires (where she is) and one in Brussels (where I am)!
So of course I made it my mission to get to Cook and Book, the bookstore in Brussels. Cook and Book takes the cafe-and-bookstore combo and goes a step further, with actual restaurants in the bookstore. Yes, I said “restaurants” plural: there’s Bloc A and Bloc B of Cook and Book, which each have their own entrances, themes, and restaurants. In each of these two areas, inside is broken down into different sections, as one might find in any bookstore. The difference is that the sections are physically separated and the decor is thematic: the travel section has an Airstream in it and Campbell’s soup cans hanging from the ceiling, for example.
There’s also a fabulous English language book section (in Bloc B), complete with dark wooden bookshelves and red leather seats. Although the majority of the books are in French (with the obvious exception of the English-language section and the perhaps not-as-obvious partial exception of the travel books, of which a number are in English), I had a wonderful time wandering around, checking out both the books and the decor. There are some great little gifts and a lot of cards in English if you are in Brussels and happen to need a card or two.
Although I only had a hot chocolate and my friend had a salad, the restaurant sections definitely began to fill up as lunchtime rolled around. I’ve read that reservations are necessary for dinner. We were there just before the lunch crowd and noticed that salads seemed very popular, as did breakfast (there’s even a Sunday brunch in Bloc B!). So while I can’t speak to the quality of the food, the hot chocolate was excellent, and it does appear to be a pretty popular place. It is definitely worth checking out for the bookstore part alone (in my opinion. and that is the opinion of someone who reads a lot so keep that in mind…). Also they have multicolored poodle doodles as the background to part of their website — seriously, how could anyone/I not love that?
Cook and Book is conveniently located at Avenue Paul Hymans 251, which is right at the Roodebeek metro, across the street from the W Shopping Centre. Also, the hours are great: Bloc A is open 8 am until midnight daily; Bloc B is open 10 am until 8 pm, and until 10:30 pm on Fridays (the restaurants have shorter hours).
What cool bookstores have you been to? Where else do I need to go?