De Jonkman was started in 2006 by Chef Filip Claeys and his wife Sandra Claeys. It is a short train ride from Brussels to a shrubbery surrounded modern house in Brugge. There are colorful and whimsical animals outside the windows and in some of the several dining rooms. Detailing of the interior and exterior design is lovely and lots of large windows to the lush grounds serve as walls for the dining rooms. Art by Belgian artists and mirrors adorn other walls and the large white cloth covered tables are well spaced and fitted with comfortable chairs. They have 2 Michelin stars and chef Claeys was on hand the day we were there to produce some wonderful dishes for us to enjoy. He really stresses sustainable food sourcing and works to highlight local products that are not usually on menus, especially fish that would often be thrown back and he finds a way to turn them into something delicious. It is worth a trip to Brugge; the food is outstanding. The staff were all friendly and spoke great English. The menu offered a la carte options as well as 5, 6 and 7 course tastings. Working with the chef we were able to select a la carte options that would highlight what he thought looked best that day.
The meal started with a really amazing group of terrific amuse bouche. Profiteroles were filled with lesser spotted dogfish (a small catshark) that was smoked in house. It was a warm, creamy and delicious filling. Crispy Irish farm bread was topped with jelly, of chicken and creme fraiche. The chewy bread was great with the creamy topping. Really yummy.
A cannoli was stuffed with cream of carrot jelly and 5 spices. It was almost nutty and the carrots really sweet. Brioche bread was served with goose foie gras from Hungary. It was accented with a gel of citrus. This foie gras is not a force fed variety and really had a wonderful flavor. Slowly boiled quail egg was coated with a powder or ham and porcini. It was rich and eggy with salty mushroom flavors.
A piece of naan bread was topped with confit duck and mushroom beneath a topping of cardoons. The topping here was excellent and popped with flavor and texture.
Whelk was covered with Bernaise and was a huge piece that was nicely chewy and coated with an incredible sauce.
A haddock beignet was served with garlic dipping sauce. It was more tempura like in its lightness. The juicy fish went great with the sauce for a really tasty item.
Bread was a multi-grain round loaf of sour dough served with salted butter. The yeasty bread had a nice light crisp crust. It was good.
Our meal started with ‘Oosterschelde’ lobster with morels and eggplant. The first serving was a poached piece with a wild garlic sauce alongside morels, broad beans, Paris mushrooms and grilled eggplant. The lobster was excellent, sweet and juicy. The eggplant was outstanding, possibly the best I’ve ever had – grilly with not a hint of bitterness. The peas and beans were incredibly fresh and great and the huge morel was the crowning piece. Everything on the plate was packed with flavor and they nicely left the extra sauce if we wanted it to use. Each individual component was good but they were also remarkable together. The vegetable grouping was sprinkled with super crispy bread crumbs that added another texture to an already good assortment. An excellent plate.
The second part of the lobster was served with sea oyster, lobster coral and an aioli of garlic and butter. A leaf of tender young chard was wrapped over the top and it was super with the buttery, yummy sauce. This was also really wonderful and I loved how it looked on the pretty plate/bowl.
Langoustine is something he usually doesn’t have but had some this day and wanted to share a little with us. He grilled it in a Green Egg and served it with a cauliflower mousseline and a sauce of white beer vinaigrette. The langoustine was topped with onion, capers and herbs. The wonderful crisp bread crumbs also graced the cauliflower and added a nice touch to the perfectly cooked vegetables. The langoustine had excellent flavor and went well with the tasty sauce.
Turbot was cooked on the bone and served with béarnaise crab and green asparagus. It was a totally rich sauce that paired perfectly with the large flake wonderfully cooked fish. The few bones were large and easily removed. The asparagus was nicely flavored and topped with a bit of spinach alongside a roll of tarragon cream. Wonderful flavors were abundent with this offering and it all was spectacular.
We didn’t order a cheese course but I snapped a photo when it came out for other diners.
Crêpe Normade, a dessert inspired by something made by the chef’s father. It was a pancake batter with butter, sugar, caramelized apple and Calvados. On the side was a dish of vanilla ice cream set on crispy cookie crumbles. The edge of the cake got nicely crispy and the middle was a delight of butter and apples. Truly amazing, this was all good things on one plate – you didn’t even need the ice cream – it was that good. Yum x3. This one was to die for and total heaven on a plate.