#food – f r e s h , f a i r , f a b u l o u s

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This time we looked for a hip, young, tasty restaurant in Bruges for the seventeenth birthday of our daughter, and we found this at #food. Relatively new but with very good reviews on Tripadvisor, #food fills the gap of young trendy restaurants. Bruges counts many good restaurants, and quite a number of michelin stars, but most of them are quite classic in approach (and expensive as well). It is located quite centrally, and quickly filled up on Sunday at lunchtime.We had made a reservation five days before, and the only minus point I can think of, is that they had given away the table at the window we had asked for. When I mentioned it, the hostess immediately asked the couple already sitting there if they minded to move ( they hadn’t ordered yet). It made me feel a bit guilty but they luckily did not mind.

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The restaurant is decorated in a seventies, recycled chic, using simple wooden planks and old cupboard doors to furnish the walls, and nostalgic seventies toys as decorative items.

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The menu is not fancy, proposing bruschettas, soups, burgers, salads, quiches, lasagnas and toasts, all fresh and homemade, using a large amount of fresh herbs and fruits as well as different kinds of salads. All the burgers are homemade and served on brown buns, and you can even try a burger with 30 % of worms and grashoppers in them. There is a good choice for vegetarians, and you can drink homemade lemonade.

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The kitchen is run by Dave, who obviously loves to cook and does it with passion and creativity. He invents a new dessert every now and then, which is named Dave’s Wave, based on the inspiration of the moment. This time it looked like a plant in a pot, but tasted like a yummy dessert. (it is chocolate crumble on top)

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We ordered a plate of Bruschettas as a starter, each of us took a burger and we had Panna Cotta as dessert, while my son tried the Dave’s Wave. The buschettas are simple but really fresh and very tasty. The burgers are really good, with a great salad, while the salads and dishes other people ordered also looked fabulous. The Panna Cotta is good and obviously homemade, the Dave’s Wave looked and tasted great with a lots of fresh fruit.

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#food is a great find and really what we needed in Bruges, we will surely be back!

And you can pay by card!

#food: Oude Burg 30, 8000 Brugge

Tel: 0498 60 34 60, hashtagfood@hotmail.com, http://www.hashtagfood.be

Mo: 12:00 – 20:30
Thu – Sa: 12:00 – 20:30
Su: 12:00 – 16:00

Every day a holiday

During the last fragile hours of my holidays I made a resolution: the best way of not falling back into  boring work routine is through very consciously enjoying every minute of every day and turning each minute into an extension of my holidays.
From now on I make it a point of honour to not let stress and workload spoil my precious time. Don’t laugh! This time I mean it!

And the same goes for eating. Life is too short for bad food, so the quest for exquisite fine dining at affordable prices is on. We just returned from a month travelling through Asia, so our palates are ready for some good old Belgian cuisine again.

And this time we discovered a new spot in our home city. “Bistro De Eetkamer” (Eekhoutstraat 6, Bruges) simple Flemish for “The dining room”. But don’t let the name of this restaurant fool you, the plates leaving from their kitchen are anything but simple. Pretty refined, on the contrary.
But before we discuss the food, let’s discuss the atmosphere. I am repeating myself, but I insist: eating out is an experience that starts at the door.  Our experience in ‘Pomperlut‘, where they basically threw us out because we had arrived 15 minutes late, was still fresh in my mind. Luckily, here they got it right; the host was friendly and quick to help us out of our coats and into our chair. We were early but before long most tables were occupied. Still, to my surprise, the room remained remarkably quiet, and almost reminded me of my childhood, when, at primary school, we were not allowed to speak at the table, until we had finished off our plates. Another surprise, when a group of Russian customers – without prior reservation- came asking for a table, they were politely refused, even if a large table was still free. I wondered if the table was booked and the hosts were stood up, or whether they just didn’t want to risk having noisy customers in the room? Or that, unlikely yet possible, they were happy with the attendance and didn’t want to have more customers. Bottom line, we, the guests, felt a little privileged in our quiet private corners.

OK, about the food then: we opted for the menu of the week because it looked very appetizing and because the à la carte choices were rather pricey in comparison.photo 1 Red Mulet on a ratatouille for starters. The red Mulet is a delicate and tasty little fish and it was prepared with much attention to detail. The same could be said for the duck breast and little potato rosti’s, prepared with a very refreshing Banyuls sauce with slices of pink and white peach.photo 3
The trio of ice cream, chocolate mousse and panna cotta and a perfectly selected glass of Merlot made this dinner a well rounded and much appreciated experience.

At 109 euro, it had not been a cheap evening out, and maybe we would have enjoyed it more if the ambiance had been just a tad more lively, but then again, sometimes a quiet night out, with within sight and earshot nothing more than only the tinkling of cutlery on your plate, sweet words whispered from lips to lips and the smile on the lovely face in front of you, is all there is to desire and these precious minutes culminated in another evening well spent during my everlasting extended holidays back home.photo 2

The House of Eliott is now Maison Elza – Ghent

‘The House of Eliott’ is now ‘Maison Elza‘. No more dinners but breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea with homemade scones instead! Open from 9 AM to 5:30 PM. Same cosy interior but a different approach! We haven’t tried it yet, but if we do, we will surely write about it!

Aaaah Happy places. Yes this time we definitely visited a happy place, it made us smile and happy anyway. It was a surprise, since this time Neil had made the reservation for a restaurant, and I was smart enough not to ask any questions. ( Yes I managed to suppress my curiosity!) We walked from our hotel in Ghent towards the Gravensteen. We took a drink in the bar next to the restaurant since we were a bit early. The bar ‘Club Reserva’ is also a music bar with daily live music in the cellar. Some people having a drink in the bar were waiting for the live performance downstairs. The bar is in a brown jazzy style, but seems to miss a bit in atmosphere. But it was good enough to have a drink and talk a little. At 8 PM we entered  ‘The House of Eliott’, which Neil offered as an early birthday dinner (one month in advance, but this also meant I was having a very prolonged birthday party this year, so no complaints!)

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We could choose between a table already free downstairs or wait five minutes for a table upstairs. The upstairs seemed lighter and a bit more attractive, so we decided to wait five minutes in the ‘Salon’ in front of the bar when you enter. We took the time to take in the surroundings, which are lavishly decorated in a nostalgic twenties style, a bit bohemian and burlesque, with a fascination for Chanel (so pearls everywhere). After five minutes we were taken to a romantic table with leopard seats. A lot of lobster on the menu, and I love lobster, so no worries there. There were two menus (Menu Eliott and market Menu) and we chose the shorter one (market Menu), with half a lobster as starter and half a lobster as a main course, and a dessert after. And half a bottle of white wine. We received bread while waiting, together with pepper, salt, oil and butter and a small pot with fresh herbs with some scissors to cut onto the bread. Really cute and delicious, especially the virgin olive oil was of very good quality. (and you can really win me over with these kind of original and tasty ideas ). We were also brought an appetizer with fresh grey shrimp and cauliflower cappuccino. The hosts are hip, charming and very friendly. They obviously love their job and the restaurant they are running. The music is in the same twenties style and ads to the warm atmosphere.

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The first lobster was very succulent and the combination with green asparagus, rucola and Italian cheese original and refreshing, without drowning out the tasty lobster. We ate the lobster till there was nothing to suck out anymore! We got some cucumber sorbet in between and after that our second half lobster with white asparagus Flemish style, on sea lavender ( a vegetable that looks a bit like spinach). It was Flemish style with a twist and with a poached egg on top! Besides lobster I also adore white asparagus, and again the cook really knows what he is doing. The lobsters are really fresh, combined with high quality ingredients and prepared with love for the product.

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We went for the favourite dessert of chef Tom, based on strawberries in different preparations, I believe there was white chocolate mousse and some strawberry sponge cake, and a lot of fresh strawberries. I think I should remember this meal for my last supper (should I ever have to choose one, god forbid!), since it includes most of my favourite ingredients: lobster, white asparagus and strawberries. We combined it with a coffee to end in style. This restaurant takes the coveted first place on Tripadvisor for restaurants Ghent, and they more than deserve it! Go and feel happy!

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Address:
Jan Breydelstraat 36, 9000 Gent
09 225 21 28

Open
Thursday from 6 pm, Friday to Monday from 12 to 2 pm and 18pm to…. Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday

Coeur d’artichaut

Spring started early this year, but this was still a rather chilly Saturday in April and we had been walking for quite a while. Our Son, Yolan, had just played a rehearsal at a local jazz bar and we were looking for a place to eat. The noontime cheesecake we had savoured at the ‚Le Jardin Bohemien’ , a new discovery to add to our lists of ‘cool coffee-houses&more’ was long digested and we were longing for something hearty as to end this perfect day in beauty.

We were now close to the Vrijdagsmarkt (Friday market) and had already knocked at the door of one of our old favorites, the Marco Polo trattoria. We should have made a reservation, story of our live, indeed.

We then remembered a restaurant with a very inviting name, close to this other one, ‚Lepelblad’,  that we had visited just the week before.  ‘Coeur d’artichaut’ that was it.
A quick search on the Iphone, a quick call “yes, some people called off, so we have a table for you.” Great, give us half hour, we’re on our way.  (although intuition says: a really hot restaurant is overbooked and has a few people in a queue waiting for free tables.)

What a cozy place to enter! It is as if you are at your favorite library  and you’re offered by the librarian (in this case a friendly man with a screaming bow-tie) to put your book aside for a moment and enjoy dinner, there and then. The connection between writing and eating and writing about it, struck me again.

The wine menu offered an interesting selection, and we went for a Pinot Grigio from Friuli. We knew this very refreshing and fruity wine from our visit to Trieste. Friuli, a region with many fantastic Italian specialities, like Parma and San Daniele ham, Parmeggiano and Balsamico, the ambrosia  among the vinegars.

A little pang of warning flashed through Vera’s eyes with the arrival of the ‘amuse bouche’ offered by the house.  A scoop of French creamcheese rolled in moonseed and quartered by ‘homemade cookies’.  “Could just as well have been some Philadelphia”, Vera later muttered. “And as for ‘homemade?’” …she didn’t offer any adjectives, just the question mark. But we were still in a good mood and weren’t going to let it spoil easily.

Crab on Mango for Vera, a warm goat cheese salad for Yo and goose liver terrine for myself. I know,  I should never take goose liver, and I rarely do. As it turned out, it tasted pretty good and I just shrugged off the uninspired crumbles  of crushed peanuts strewn on the side.

The Goat cheese salad was uneventful with big wedges of onion, but the Crab was a different story altogether. Vera’s silence gave it away. “How’s the crab?” I ventured.  No reply. Aw!
And I agree, it hurts to spend 16 euros on something that tastes like canned fancy crab with mayo. The mango was hard to find and totally tasteless.

Hum. But, we still enjoyed the evening, and we were hungry, after all.
The real shock came with the main dish. Again, I was the lucky one. My codfish was, uninspired, again, but tasty. I couldn’t help but wonder if the few mussels that swam on the side had accidently fallen in or if they had been there on purpose. They were cold but tasted OK.

But my heart really sunk for the first time when I saw Vera’s asparagus plate. I didn’t count the heads, there were two or three, the rest of the trunks neatly cut in three pieces and piled into a little stack, smothered in an enormous blob of  estragon foam.

My heart sunk again when Yolan asked me to taste a bite from his lamb filet. I could hardly swallow it, I kid you not, it was completely over-salted and over-peppered, so much even that it was impossible to taste the meat.

What to do? I’m a Vet, and as a doctor I know that one needs to treat the disease, not the symptoms. Complaining and asking for another plate, that would be treating the symptoms, would lose us another half hour and probably we would receive something else that would be equally unsatisfying. So, we drank our coffee, we didn’t blink but swallowed bitterly when we coughed up the 164 euro bill and left the place, still hungry.

It had been a beautiful day in Ghent. Yolan had played wonderfully, we had strolled through this pearl of cities and we had enjoyed each other’s company. The Arti-shock experience would not take that feeling away from us. But, folks, don’t waste your money here. Move just a few doors further down the road and go to the ‘Lepelblad’ instead.

Conclusions:

Coeur d’artichaut is lacking all of the essentials to a satisfying experience: lack of honesty, originality, authenticity, inspiration and quality. They are pure bluff.

And by the way; had we consulted Tripadvisor prior to calling we would have been warned. We went by intuition and intuition failed us.

Address, if you really want to know: Onderbergen 6, B-9000 Ghent

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