Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dining Out, Paleo-Style {Liege, Belgium - Atahualpa}

As some of you know, the hubster and I recently celebrated 7 years of marriage {and therefore, 8 1/2 years as a lovey-dovey couple :p}. We're high school sweethearts, even though he's Belgian and I'm American. He was an exchange student in my high school, we met and fell madly-truly-deeply in love, I followed him overseas and the rest is history! {I've never truly understood that expression, but I think I used it correctly :p}

For the last couple of years, we have been apart on our anniversary for one reason or another {most of the times it was because I was on a week long field trip with my students}. This year though, we could finally spend it together! We were so excited and went restaurant hunting that evening...

Unfortunately, we hadn't really thought things through. You see, our anniversary was Monday, April 21st, and restaurants are typically closed Mondays here in Belgium. On top of that, it was Easter Monday. As you can guess, we didn't find anything special enough for our anniversary dinner. We ended up going home {and eating this}.

We vowed to make up for this deception though, and went out to eat Thursday at the Atahualpa. We like to try new foods whenever we can, so when we heard about this South American / Latino restaurant not too far from where we live, our choice was quickly made.

First off, the decor was amazing! I really felt like I was on vacation, and the Latino music playing in the background was a nice touch. There were fresh roses at every table, and the lights were dimmed so the lit candles could work their magic.

Second, the owner was just about the nicest and most caring person I have ever met working in a restaurant. His wife does the cooking and he works the floor. I explained my dietary needs to him and he was more than willing to change things up for me and even verified a couple times with his wife in the kitchen to make sure she didn't forget to make the changes.

Third, the food. Oh man. This stuff was out of this world! We really can't wait to go back there again, and we can't say for sure if we'll try new dishes or order the same things as last time - it was that good!

We started out the meal with a shared appetizer. Usually we don't order one, but since this was a special occasion, we decided to splurge a bit. We chose the Cebiche, which was described as being "fish marinated in lime and spices". I'd describe it as "nom nom nom!" It was served in a bed of lettuce {which I used as wraps to eat it} and with little dishes of "pesto". I don't know exactly what was in those little dishes {olive oil, peppers, cilantro, onions...} but it was divine! There was also a basket of warm bread, which the hubster ate a bit of. He said it was good bread, but he would have rather seen a more traditional bread, such as corn tortillas or the like.

For my main course, I chose the Moqueca de peixe, which was a Brazilian fish cooked in palm oil, topped with a delicious mix of coconut milk, onions and bell peppers. This dish is usually served with rice, but I asked for a salad instead. Also, the fish is usually floured, but the owner simply asked his wife to not flour it. The fish was fried to a crispy perfection, the sauce was heavenly and the veggies were fresh! If we had been at home, I would have licked the plate.

Sorry for the low-light photo - I try to be discrete when photographing my plates while eating out.

For his main course, he chose the Anticucho curico, which was the Argentinian beef marinated in rum and cilantro. He also had a side of seasoned rice and fresh veggies. I did taste his meat {even though I'm doing a Whole30 and it was marinated in rum - haters gonna hate but I don't really care :p}. That meat. Not only was it the most tender piece of beef I had ever chewed, but it was also the most flavorful! And every so often you would crunch down on a piece of fleur de sel... it was heavenly!

We had planned on ordering a dessert to share {I know, I know, Whole30, so shoot me :p}, but we were too full to take another bite! If we had ordered a dessert, it would have been the Banana Rum Flambé. But, that will be for another time.

So, to sum things up, if you're in the area and looking for a mini vacation and some seriously good food, the Atahualpa is the place to go. The prices are reasonable, the owners are amazingly caring and the cuisine will blow your mind!


  1. That sounds like a great restaurant! I'll be near Liege next month so I might just give this a try :-D Thanks for sharing!

    1. I'm sure you'll love it if you do decide to eat there! And have a great time "near Liège" - the area is beautiful!

  2. I should go there one day, maybe with my family.
    I'm from Liège (but now I live near Charleroi) and I've never been there yet.

    1. You definitely should! I've been back since and it was just as good :-D