Walking from the street at the Grand Place area last week on the evening when Belgium was playing against South Korea and locals were obviously nowhere near any restaurant without a television set, I could not help but wonder what makes people visit such restaurants around the world.
What are they looking for? Why would locals consider such places a tourist trap but so many have no qualms in sitting down and eating there. What is so attractive about waiters greeting you in all languages as they try to guess your nationality to try and get you in?
In the case of Brussels, are the mussels and fries served in such places so different in quality to restaurants which cater mainly for locals? Do the tourists who sit down to eat in such places care about the difference? Are they more interested in the experience of eating al fresco as the day gets longer as long as they sit and enjoy a glass of beer or wine? Is the location more important than quality?
What triggers such behaviour? Is it the wisdom of the crowds?
This is a common phenomenon not only in the city I know best. Tourist traps can be found pretty much in every city. The more tourists a city attracts the more you are likely to find such places. Take cities like Paris and London. They are among the top most culinary destinations but get it wrong and you are likely to end up being extremely disappointed.
Have you ever noticed how many times bars, restaurants and cafes in the best locations or with great views have the lousiest service? Is there a correlation between location and quality? Do places which cannot attract customers on the basis of location go the extra mile to please their customers for this reason? Are they more passionate about the food they serve, the provenance of their produce?
But for the many who frequent such places, does it really matter?