Countryside, cosy atmosphere and a good honest meal all in one place
Les Étangs du Cheneau, Ham-sur-Heure-Nalinnes
‘Les Étangs du Cheneau’, a unique restaurant located just a few kilometres outside Charleroi, is a favourite haunt of locals from the metropolitan area. Its rural setting is popular with anyone who appreciates good hearty food with no frills.
“My father is very keen on fishing. This is how we found ourselves at the Étangs du Cheneau. Originally, my parents rented the property with the main aim of developing fishing activities. Finally, 6 years down the line, the place has become a restaurant renowned throughout the region,” explains Eddy Michaux, the managers’ son, who sometimes can be found serving behind the bar.
Fred and Mimi, the current managers, first fell under the spell of the place in Ham-sur-Heure-Nalinnes back in 2013. Located at the bottom of a valley, it is made up of two lakes running alongside a stream, the Cheneau. One of the watercourses is used for fishing; the other is a protected nature area. On days when the site is open, anglers can set up their tackle on the banks as early as daybreak and spend the day fishing for trout.
The site is a real landmark for animals.
This green corner is a veritable haven of peace, for anglers and animals alike. “We see kingfishers, dragonflies, wagtails… It is a refuge for many amphibians in springtime,” explains Eddy Michaux.
Warm and welcoming atmosphere
The atmosphere is summed up neatly by a placard at the building’s entrance: “simplicité et convivialité” (simplicity and friendliness). Clients are greeted with a warm hello. “People enjoy coming here for the very friendly atmosphere. Everyone is welcome: not just anglers,” affirms Eddy Michaux.
The majority of clients come from the local area. But some travel from Charleroi or even as far afield as Brussels, Liege and Flanders, according to Eddy Michaux. “Clients know they will find peace and quiet here. It is rare to find such a serene and rural spot, with a terrace like ours, under 20 minutes from the centre of Charleroi,” he continues.
Some visitors come purely for the fishing and bring a picnic; others come for the fishing and the restaurant; then some come just to eat. “In summer, sometimes the services overlap. People who come for lunch enjoy themselves and sometimes stay quite late. This means we can see evening diners arriving whilst the lunchtime crowd are still soaking up the surroundings. That being said, we do our best to accommodate everyone.”
The unique restaurant can seat up to 40 covers inside the building and more outside, on the terrace. On sunny days or in winter, when the terrace is closed, Eddy Michaux recommends booking ahead. “In summer, unfortunately, we sometimes end up having to turn people away. The terrace is very popular when the weather is good,” he explains.
Eating a good trout
“You won’t find any frills here. Our aim is to serve up hearty and simple meals,” he explains.
The menu includes different kinds of fish and seafood, such as sardines, pikeperch and king prawns, as well as lamb skewers and steaks. All the ingredients are assembled in the kitchen and cooked in the restaurant itself. Fred grills fish and meat in the middle of the tables.
Meat and fish are grilled in full view of the clientele.
The menu changes accordingly in winter. Traditional raclettes are on offer. This is when the fishing hut starts to resemble more of a mountain lodge, with its gingham tablecloths and soft lighting.
Big names from French chanson also help to create the ambiance, both through the music played in the restaurant as well as in the décor. Looking around, we can admire the portraits of Gilbert Bécaud, Jacques Brel and Jean Ferrat.
The restaurant recently underwent renovation. As far as the future is concerned, all that Fred and Mimi want to see is their clients continuing to enjoy their visits and taking away fond memories with them.
Les Étangs du Cheneau
80, rue du Cheneau
+32 (0)478 29 02 81
©Vidéo/Reed & Jérôme Gobin