Alex & Alex: Champagne & Chocolate
Rue de la Paille/ Strostraat, 32
1000 Brussels, Belgium
- Mon., Tues., Wed.: 1pm-6pm
- Thurs., Fri.: 1pm-9pm
- Sat.: 10:30am – 9pm
- Sunday: 10:30am – 6pm
Pralines & Truffles Prices:
100 gr = 5,70 euros
250 g = 11,40 euros
500 g = 28,50 euros
1 k = 57 euros
What is better than a piece of Belgian chocolate? When the piece of Belgian chocolate is accompanied by a flute of French champagne. Alex & Alex brings together these two great passions at its new chocolate and champagne boutique in the heart of the Sablon’s chocolate corridor.
Three partners make up Alex & Alex: Charles-Eric Vilain XIIII, Kristina T’Seyen, and Frederic Blondeel. Charles-Eric Vilain XIIII runs the shop and is on hand to pour the champagne and answer any question you might have about their champagne or chocolate. Vilain changed careers to open Alex & Alex moving from the hospitality industry to being master of ceremonies at his own destination chocolate and champagne bar.
Frederic Blondeel is a well-know Belgian chocolatier who brings his recognizable style of geometric shapes and fusion flavors (such as the unlikely but delectable praline pairings of wasabi and chocolate or chili pepper and chocolate) to Alex & Alex. Blondeel makes all the chocolates in his workshop in Beauvoorde in western Flanders near the Belgian coast and delivers them weekly to the shop. Blondeel’s chocolates can be found at other shops in Brussels but this is Blondeel’s first partnership in the Sablon. For Alex & Alex, Blondeel has created a signature series of tablet-shaped wafer thin pralines designed to harmonize with the subtle flavors of a champagne’s bouquet. My favorites are the “Spiritus Citrus: Feel Good Collection” that brings a gentle fruitiness of mandarin orange and chocolate or lemon and chocolate to the champagne tasting experience.
The third partner is Kristina T’Seyen who once had a thriving chocolate business in Mexico. T’Seyen speaks passionately about the type of experience she wants every customer to have when they visit Alex & Alex. For her, the best way to describe their chocolates is that they provide the Alex’Perience: a marriage of flavor, environment and attitude. The flavor of Alex & Alex’s chocolates are designed to grow and mature with each bite. The first bite establishes the flavor in your mouth and the second bite brings the flavor to fullness and then gently lingers after the chocolate is finished.
The environment at Alex & Alex is inviting, accessible, and comfortable. Tables and chairs encourage you to sit and nibble on chocolates while you enjoy a glass of champagne.
And lastly, the Alex’Perience inspires an environment where champagne and chocolate are more than a rare treat for special occasions, but something to be enjoyed regularly with friends.
This focus on sharing is evident in the design of Alex & Alex’s packaging. The outside of the boxes provides information on the flavors of the chocolates inside. Each box has two layers each with a different flavor. The open and flat face design of the boxes is to make it easy to take a chocolate and easy to share the chocolates. T’seyen tells a story of how when she was in Mexico she saw families circulate a box of chocolate after dinner. T’seyen wanted to bring that treasure box concept to Alex & Alex and designed a special collection box of all their flavors to be featured on the coffee table or pulled out and shared regularly.
They also want to share their knowledge of chocolate and offer chocolate workshops for children and adults, including chocolate parities just for children.
Alex & Alex is very discriminating when it comes to choosing their champagne. They only sell a select group of champagne labels from the venerable Tattinger to the small house of Abel Jobart. Each champagne is chosen based on the champagne house’s commitment to quality in production and superiority in flavor.
Keeping up with Alex & Alex is easy. Not only do they have a web site in French, Flemish and English, they are also on Facebook where you can get information on events and read customer comments. To get regular updates, become a member and be the first to hear about upcoming tastings and movies. There is no membership fee, but events do have tasting fees. Their movie nights show such culinary classics as “BottleShock” and “Chocolat.”
It is always champagne Thursday at Alex & Alex where they celebration the coming of the weekend by staying opening until 20h for the after- work crowd. If you can’t make it for “I Love Champagne After work” Thursday, no need to worry; champagne is also being poured until 20h for “champagne Friday” or “champagne Saturday.”
Quotes about champagne and chocolate can be found on everything at Alex & Alex from the business cards to the wine bags. Who can disagree with such wise words as “There is more to life than chocolate, but not right now” and “Save the Planet. It’s the only one with chocolate.” But my favorite quote came from Elizabeth Andreev. I met Elizabeth and her husband while they were sitting at the champagne bar. The Andreev’s came to Brussels for a weekend vacation and stumbled upon Alex & Alex while walking through the Sablon. As Elizabeth puts it, “We got off the plane from NYC at 7am and now we’re sitting with a glass of champagne and a plate of Belgian chocolates. The start of a perfect vacation.”