Hertog Jan, Zedelgem, 4/26/17

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buildings

Hertog Jan is located just outside the city of  Bruges in Belgium.   (They have a car out front but no ride was offered to and from the train station.) They moved from a smaller space and opened in this location, an historical farm, in July 2014.  The move was a direct result of their quest to obtain a third Michelin star but they received it before they were able to move.  According to Manager and Head Sommelier Joachim Boudens this gave them some headaches but because they had already started the plans for a bigger structure there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  The historic buildings gave them some challenges in creating the kitchen but the farm also allowed them to grow many of the vegetables and herbs they use in their cooking.

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entry, with peek in the wine cellar

The result is a large main dining room with windows on 2 walls looking out at the gardens and a huge kitchen built in the old barn. The kitchen is a third wall of the dining room but not easily seen from there although a “kitchen tour” seemed to be offered to all guests.  Boudens does come by the tables to greet his guests but the chef seemed most uninterested in those touring the kitchen – keeping his head buried in his phone the whole time. There are a ton of service people working the floor as well as a lot of folks working in the kitchen.  It would appear that there were more of them than us. When making your reservation they ask which of their menus you prefer and as no menus are presented at the table the decision seems to hold.  We had the Intensive Experience which is amuses, 4 starters, 1 main, 1 dessert and the sweet trolley.

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entrance
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their car
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entry area
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Frankie found tulips on the shared bathroom sink
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sink opens to gardens

 

Service begins with the champagne cart where glasses appeared to start at 25 euros per small serving.  I would also caution visitors that everything runs a bit high, water was 14 euros each and an espresso was 10 euros.  In addition on the way out they will try to sell you on their products which have a huge display in the reception area.  All this seemed tacky to me.  One other warning is that they told me numerous times they would give me a list of what we had when we were through but it is simply a listing of all their options with yours having the oval darkened by it.  The descriptions can be as helpful as “rollmops”, “dim sum”, or “nigiri” so I’m glad I took notes.

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view out the windows
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view out the windows
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dining room
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dining room
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beginning champagne
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Frankie liked the color
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table set up

 

The amuse was an avocado wedge coated with tomato powder and covered with a sauce of crispy bread.  The sauce made this one work, it provided a great crunch and olive oil to bring out the taste of the avocado.

avocado, tomato & olive oil
avocado, tomato & olive oil
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closer
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inside
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Frankie rested on the purse stool

 

Bread was served with containers of whipped regular butter and whipped herb butter.  The herb butter had a slightly interesting taste but the whipped regular butter couldn’t provide the good taste of butter.

bread and butters
bread and butters
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Frankie checked out the butter knife

 

 

The salmon and cucumber  was dressed at the table with a sauce of oil and champagne.  The cucumber was cut into long strips and wrapped around the salmon and salmon eggs.  It was a nice dish.

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salmon, cucumber and dill presentation
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add broth
deconstructed
deconstructed
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detail on napkin

 

The potato and coffee was topped with cheese and underneath was a layer of creamy luciousness.

Potato, coffee, mimolette
Potato, coffee, mimolette
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closer
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inside
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Frankie thought the table flowers were a miniature version of the bathrooms

 

The last amuse was served on the kitchen tour – a ball filled with goose liver, passion fruit and liquorice.  It was a taste explosion and I could have eaten a handful.

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passion fruit, goose liver and liquorice
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kitchen
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ceiling
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kitchen

 

Our first starter was a mackerel tartar with red cabbage and goat cheese.  It was heavy on the ‘sour cream’ taste and I’d call it just okay taste-wise.

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Mackerel, red cabbage and goat cheese
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closer
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wine front
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wine back
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Frankie gave the butters a sniff, but she doesn’t like the whipped varieties

 

‘Dim sum’ was a pumpkin wrapped langoustine with passion fruit.  The pumpkin was used like a pasta and contained some tasty pumpkin custard with the langoustine.  It was further enhanced with a sauce made from the shells of the langoustine.

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presentation
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“dim sum”
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closer
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from above
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inside

 

Grilled white asparagus are served with a mousseline sauce, chives and bottarga grated on the top.  It got a very smokey taste and overall was quite nice.  There was a bit of grit in the tip of the asparagus.

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Asparagus, bone marrow and kimchi
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closer
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another view
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Frankie helped

 

“Nigiri” was grilled squid with a sauce of different peppers and a bit of spice.  The squid was very firm and enhanced with bacon, tomato and cucumber.  It was really attractive and pleasant.

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“nigiri”
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from the end
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from the top
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closer
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underneath

 

The main course was Presa Ibérico Stroganoff which was pork with bell peppers, shiraz sauce, mushrooms and olives.  There were lots of flavors hidden below the pork which was covered with slices of mushrooms.  The pork was exceptionally lean and had little taste on its own.

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Presa Ibérico Stroganoff
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closer
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inside
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further underneath
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wine front
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wine back
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Frank found a window her size

 

Our dessert was raspberry and roses inside of a crispy cookie crust.  It was very good.

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Raspberry, yogurt and roses
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closer
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from the side
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inside
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Frankie and the pussy willows

 

The dessert trolley had lots of choices and you were welcome to whatever you want.  The chocolate pie with Rice Krispies was a  favorite.  Unfortunately they had no caramel anything.

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dessert cart
one plate
one plate
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another plate
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Frankie looks over the gift
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Frankie thought it was a small pencil
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Frankie shows the menu options
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Shelves of things to see in the reception area
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Frankie posed with the cookbooks
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Latte Macchiato
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The Michelin man and Frankie
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Chef Gert de Mangeleer and Frankie

 

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