Bozar Restaurant, Brussels, 4/27/19

one entrance
one entrance

Bozar is the one star Michelin restaurant in the Palais des Beaux Arts Museum.  Chef Karen Torosyan, the ‘Pie King’,  is noted for his pâté en croûte and in 2015 he was named the World Champion of Pâté en Croûte.  However be warned, if you want to try any of his crusts they must be order about a week ahead of time.  We ordered a Pithiviers a week before and tried to order a Millefeuille that evening and were told it was not possible.  They also offer 3 and 5 course tasting menus with wine pairings available.  It is a large place on multiple levels with bare marble tables closely set and appointed with bare wood armless chairs.  One end of the longer room is the open kitchen where there is a always a flurry of activity.  Karen Torosyan was there and very busy in the kitchen, with his name etched on the end of the huge stainless steel cooktop.   Lights are dimmed and the noise level is high.  Service was friendly, spoke good English and reasonably attentive.   Continue reading

Restaurant De Jonkman, Brugge, 4/27/19

entering
entering

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. Continue reading

La Paix (update), Brussels, 4/26/19

building
building

We last visited La Paix 2 years ago.  Since then they have been elevated to a 2 star Michelin rating.  The beautiful origami bird sculpture still graces the 1892 dining room built in a retired bank that processed the money from the meat slaughterhouses across the street.  Chef David Martin was in the kitchen and while he has changed the hours and days the food is still of great quality and flavor.  I recommend you visit here if you can.  The tasting menu changes every couple months but individual dishes  change with availability and seasons.  His staff, along with his partner Nathalie Obbiet, could not have made us feel more welcome.  They offer a 6 course tasting only on Thursday and Friday evenings and lunch Tuesday through Friday.  The large open kitchen is at the back of the room and one side is filled with an old bar that serves as a service area, not for seating, and stocks a full bar.  The large fish tanks have moved into the center of the room for all to easily admire the size of the crabs and lobsters.  The bare wood tables are nicely spaced and most include a side service table so crowding is not an issue.  The old wood floor is gorgeous and the lighting is lowered but far from dim.  Pacing was great as was the portion control of the tasting. Continue reading

Friterie, Brussels, 4/26/19

place
exterior

Friterie is a small sliver of a shop tucked away but they are worth mentioning because they do serve some of the better fresh hand cooked fries.  They are double cooked to get a good crisp outside the soft potato.  There is always a line and this trip I found they were selling snacks in addition to well done fries.  Orders of fries are in 3 sizes that come in the usual paper cone.  An assortment of toppings are also available but my favorite is to just get the fries with a little extra salt.  They do have the little forks to keep it a bit less messy if you want toppings.  On the largest order it looked like they put some topping in the middle as well as on the top.  There are a few tables to eat at out front or you can just munch on them as you walk or stand around with all the other people eating fries.  They also have added a cool payment machine that takes cards.  It’s a snack you have to try when in Brussels but one that the quality varies greatly on, so start small and don’t be afraid to toss. Continue reading

L’air du temps, Liernu, 4/26/19

building
restaurant building

L’air du temps is in an old farm house about an hour train ride from Brussels and then a 30 minute cab ride from Namur station.   The good sized dining room is in one of the many buildings on the compound and had floor to ceiling windows on three sides that overlook some of the gardens.  I understand that some of the other buildings offer lodging if you want to stay out there.  The restaurant has a 2 star Michelin rating and the room has a contemporary feel with swirling wood decorations covering the ceiling and low pile gray carpeting, both of which dampen sound.  They had upholstered chairs that I did not find particularly comfortable – they felt too hard.  The good sized, white cloth covered tables are widely set and minimally decorated.  The back wall is mostly cabinets except for the glassed in passage to the kitchen.  Piped in bird sounds are in the background.  They offered 2 tasting menus and an a la carte menu.  There was a special smaller option for lunch only.  Pacing was pretty good and portion control was excellent.  Alcoholic and non-alcoholic pairings are offered.  We chose the smaller tasting and ordered our own wine.   Chef Sang-Hoon Degiembre was in house and came out to chat with guests as well as present some of the dishes.  He is from South Korea but is now a Belgian citizen.  The Korean letter that seems to be a symbol of the place is the first letter of his name and also the world for world in the Japanese alphabet. Continue reading

Bon Bon (update), Brussels, 4/25/19

building
building

We last visited Bon Bon, a 2 star Michelin restaurant, 2 years ago.  The interior decorations of the old mansion haven’t changed much but now the whimsical sheep are also by the front door to greet you.  The white painted tree branch still extends into the room and the lovely old wood floors have nice rugs that provide sound absorption.  Tables are well spaced and with the ceiling sound panels, noise level is really not a problem, even with soft music playing in the background.  The large open kitchen is still humming and there are some counter seats for those who want an even closer view.  Windows around the perimeter look over the lush gardens outside.   They now offer a 6 course surprise tasting as well as a 5 course vegetarian one, in addition to an a la carte menu.  After a heavy lunch we chose the vegetarian option and ordered our own wine.  Pacing of the meal was good as was portion control.  Chef Christophe Hardiquest was in the kitchen and cam out to speak with each of the tables. Continue reading

Chambre Séparée, Ghent, 4/24/19

exterior
exterior

Chambre Séparée is a u-shaped counter for 16 around a large open kitchen dominated by wood fired grills, which do all the cooking.   There is a comfortable space out front where you wait for your seat at the counter.  They invite you to come early to enjoy the space and a cocktail.  Our reservation ran a little late so they started with the snacks out there.  I don’t know if this was usual or not. Two seatings fill the spaces for this surprise tasting menu.  Wine pairings are available but we chose our own bottles of wine to accompany dinner.  Vintage rock records are played on a turntable, smoke fills the air ( which will also permeate your clothes by the time you leave) and lighting is pretty dim at the counter.  They have been in this location for two and a half years and hope to move the restaurant to the country in another year and a half when it would be time to remodel the building.  It is a several hour meal with good pacing, no lags, and great portion control.  At the end of the evening they have a written copy of the menu for you as well as a parting gift of housemade bread and butter.  Kobe Desramaults is the chef and he and the other chefs presented the food and described it well.  They were all very friendly, spoke good English and didn’t mind questions. Continue reading

Sea Grill (update), Brussels, 4/24/19

entrane
entrance

We were last at the Sea Grill in November of 2013, a 2 star Michelin restaurant in the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel.  The elegant dining room is located below the hotel lobby with widely spaced large tables set with lovely clothes and napkins.  The lighting is lowered but there are spots directed to each table so it’s good lighting for photos.  There were 2 adjoining rooms with larger tables for bigger parties. Wood walls are on either end with art on the other walls and music plays in the background.  The excellent service was provided by a staff that all conversed well in English.  An old school atmosphere did not provide my menu with prices but did provide a purse stool.   The menu offered a la carte options as well as a 4 course tasting, for which they were willing to do some substitutions (we substituted the Sole for the Sea Bass). Pacing of the meal was on the slow side but portion control was very good.  They did provide us with a printed menu of our meal however it was not exactly what we had. Continue reading

Restaurant Bouchéry, Brussels, 4/29/17

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side awning

Bouchéry is a medium sized place with signs on the street but an entrance hidden around the edge of the building.  Inside dining is spread over a couple rooms all with small, closely packed marble top tables and decorations of wood and rope hanging from the ceiling. Seating is with benches along the walls and stiff straw chairs on the other side.  Unfortunately with the full rooms it was impossible for the service people not to knock into my chair when they entered and exited the room.  It would seem they could benefit from some study of their traffic flow.  They offer a 6 or 8 course surprise tasting menu and optional wine pairings that are a pretty good deal. Continue reading

Comme Chez Soi, Brussels, 4/29/17

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entrance

Comme Chez Soi has been in this location since 1936 and in the same family’s hands since 1916.  Laurence Wynants Rigolet’s father had been chef, as was her grandfather and now her husband Lionel is the chef and she looks after the front end.  It is a small place with only about 11 tables in the main dining room, but there are small private rooms and two tables in the kitchen.  The main dining room is lovely filled with stained glass and dark wood.  There is comfortable bench seating along the walls with chairs on the other side of the ample tables.  Spacing is good and there are plenty of sound absorbing surfaces in the room so noise is not a problem.  The window on one end looks out onto the street and into the kitchen on the other end.  It is a lovely room.  They offer a la carte, a special lunch menu and a couple of tasting menu options.  We chose the 5 course menu.  Service is impeccable and well paced along with being super friendly (and they speak great English).   Continue reading

Nuance, Duffel, 4/28/17

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entrance

Nuance is a small place in Duffel – a short train ride from Antwerp.  Thierry Theys is the chef of this 2 star Michelin restaurant which he started in 2008 with his wife Sofie who manages the service part of the house.  She not only brings out the food but gets by to visit with every table to welcome them.  They make a great team, so young (they started Nuance at 21 years of age) and yet very capable.  If you’ve read many of my write ups you know I’m a nut for flavor with appearance being secondary.  This place managed to pull off both spectacularly.  I can’t remember when I’ve so enjoyed looking through my photographs to chose which ones to include and yet so fondly remember the flavors of the experience.  They offer a 6 course tasting menu with optional wine pairings or an a la carte menu.   Continue reading

La Paix, Brussels, 4/28/17

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building

La Paix is nice sized space dominated by a metal origami bird sculpture hanging from the ceiling.   The small tables are widely spaced and ended by additional wooden cabinets where serving dishes can be placed and a purse or jacket stored on the shelves below.  The room has approximately 8 tables, a high ceiling, bright lighting, windows looking out on the street on 2 sides, a bar on one side and an open kitchen taking up the last wall.  Chef David Martin and his wife Nathalie Obbiet who runs the front end took over the place in 2004.  They are only open on Friday night, they are mainly a lunch spot.  Located right across from a market they have a seafood tank containing some huge crabs and other live seafood.   Continue reading

Bruneau Restaurant, Brussels, 4/27/17

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entrance

Bruneau is an elegant restaurant spread over several rooms.  There are private party rooms as well as a lovely patio with sculpture and trees.  The room is nicely lit with soft lighting and candles which gives a lovely warmth to the beautiful wood work that is the lower part of the room.  Soft music is in the background, tables are large and widely spaced and each table is equipped with salt and pepper grinders.  They’ve been here since 1975 with the same chef and it feels like a throw back to another time (the ladies menus having no prices) and yet it is very comfortable.  The friendly service may be a part of that and chef Bruneau coming out to visit with his guests at the end of the meal.  They offer 4 and 5 course tastings as well as a la carte and we were up for a red wine and meat meal.  We came to the right place.   Continue reading

Hof van Cleve, Kruishoutem, 4/27/17

front door
front door

Hof van Cleve is in an old house outside of Ghent, using several of the rooms as dining rooms.  The wide wood plank floors and white painted ceiling give it the feeling of a farmhouse.   The house windows look out on to the meadows and farms around it.  It has a comfortable and welcoming feel.  The tables are well spaced  and service is friendly but the pacing is variable.   We started with the house aperitif which was a sparkler mixed with elderberry.  It rang up at 30 euros a glass, but was a good pour and nicely refreshing.   Continue reading

Bon Bon, Brussels, 4/26/17

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building

Bon Bon has been in this location for 6 years, a medium sized place with a cozy fun vibe.  There are 6 counter seats where the chef interacts with guests but all the tables have good site lines to the open kitchen.  Soft jazz music plays in the background and lighting is low.  The convivial atmosphere is demonstrated with the whimsical sheep purse stools, which separate the seats at the bar and watch over the room.  Service is very friendly and good English is spoken.  Tables are well spaced and the lower ceiling with dampening tiles keeps the noise at a good level and your table conversation private.  Each table is placed on its own rug and you can’t help but notice the large painted white tree branch that extends into the back portion of the dining room.  They offer a la carte as well as a 5 or 7 course surprise tasting menu.  Wine pairings are available as well as an optional cheese course.  We chose the 7 course tasting menu and ordered our own bottles of wine.   Continue reading

Hertog Jan, Zedelgem, 4/26/17

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buildings

Hertog Jan is located just outside the city of  Brugges 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. Continue reading

Cafe Restaurant Ogenblik, Brussels, 4/25/17

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Exterior

Cafe Restaurant Ogenblik is two small rooms on different levels with windows looking out onto the street and one of the arched Les Galeries Malls.  The marble tables are all set on iron stands with wood benches lining the walls and sawdust coats the floor.  Each table has a light fixture that is adjustable as to the height from the table.  Napkins are of paper but are thick and embossed with the name of the restaurant. Best yet, they have a house cat that walks through the room and is very friendly – what a treat!   Continue reading

WY by Bart de Pooter, Brussels, 4/25/17

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Exterior

WY is a good-sized restaurant located in a Smart Car dealership.  It started 5 years ago in a Mercedes dealer that was taken over by Smart Car, and many of their materials still reference Mercedes.  I am putting it in out-of-order as there is a time limit to be able to visit there – they are closing May 20th, when the dealership closes.  There was a possibility to move the restaurant but management decided not to because the location was not in town.  It’s still serving tasty food and wines are half price so it’s a good deal if you are in the area.   Continue reading