There are good restaurants, and we love to find those, and then every now and then you stumble upon a restaurant that is a very good restaurant with that little extra, that really makes it stand out.
‘Lepelblad’ in Ghent falls in that last category! And we really stumbled upon it on a Friday evening in March when we were looking for something to eat after choosing a frame for a special poster for Neil’s birthday. We were walking around in the very hip neighborhood around Onderbergen, where restaurants and interior design shops attract a crowd in search of quality and a degree of coolness.
Many restaurants were already full, the Kastart included, but this restaurant just next to it had a very interesting menu, so we decided to give it a try. It looked also quite full at first sight, but we could take a table for two that had just come free for the three of us. We took it, being hungry and with the atmosphere of the place really drawing us in. Once we sat down, people kept walking in hoping for a table, most of them leaving in disappointment. Our table looked more priceless by the minute.
The restaurant has two big connected rooms with high ceilings, and a slightly simple but very light and natural interior design with some color touches, and a big blackboard with suggestions above the fireplace in each room. The second room is connected to the partly open kitchen. In the first room is a small bar where drinks are prepared. There is a happy bustle in the restaurant that can become a little too noisy in the second room, as we experienced on our second visit. But as I said, the place has a little extra, the owner being one of those extra’s. She walks around keeping an eye one the place. The second visit was together with Neil on a romantic evening, and after seating us on a table for two in the middle of the second room, the owner proposed another table a little later next to the wall where we would sit more quietly and intimate. (under a very special tableau of colored paper squares put together in quilt like way to form a huge work of art. ) We accepted her offer gladly and appreciated the sensitivity for her clientèle.
The first time with my children, they immediately loved the menu. My son was happy to order his favorite drink Roomer, an alcoholised frink with elderflower produced in Ghent. My daughter had trouble choosing from the many juices. While choosing our plate we got an appetizer which tasted lovely. We all ended up choosing a dish from the blackboard, I took something out of the wok with a lot of vegetables and beef, my daughter fish in curry, my son chicken with mozzarella and salad. Every dish was first of all filled with loads of fresh vegetables, many of the kind used far too little, (but oh so tasty), fresh herbs (my daughter loved the fresh coriander in her plate, her favorite fresh herb), and tasty meat and fish. All well seasoned but with respect for the natural flavors of the ingredients. We were immediately taken by the restaurant, and I placed it on my all time favorites list.
That’s how I ended up here again just a few weeks later with my husband. Although we could have chosen one of the more high end restaurants in Ghent, I really wanted to introduce him to this place. And it didn’t fail this ultimate test. The second time was just as good or maybe even better than the first time. This time we made sure to make reservations, luckily because the restaurant was packed. We both took a first course from the blackboard with suggestions, I wanted to take the asparagus as a main dish but since they had ran out, I decided to take the owners’ advice and try the saltimbocca with Mediterranean vegetables, while Neil went for the rib-eye angus steak with a salad. Again all dishes excelled in the many very fresh vegetables and the high quality of the meat, prepared originally, without being overworked. And the wine ordered by the glass did not disappoint. There was a desert with rhubarb on the blackboard, (my favorite), so we both enjoyed the rhubarb with ice-cream and a coffee to finish it of. We will come back many times I am sure, and with the daily or weekly changing suggestions on the board won’t tire easily either, suggestions often using ingredients in season.
Lepelblad: address: Onderbergen 40, 9000 Gent, 09 324 02 44,