Not Knokke, Not Tokyo, Not Paris – La Buvette, Brussels

‘La Buvette’ has been far up on my to-do list since I moved to
Brussels in November. The old butchery that was turned into a stylish
restaurant, serving beautifully looking dishes, seemed like a place that I
could like. It also reminded me of some places that I used to go to when I
lived in Paris. The chef Nicolas Scheidt from Alsace and co-chef Damien Brunet
from Bretagne, do a great job representing French inspired cuisine in Brussels.

The place is decorated in a simple and clean way and a lot is left
from the old butchery shop. Old metal hangers and details, beige tiles on the
floor, an old and beautiful counter. Downstairs there are five little tables,
neatly put in order to fit into the small space. There is also seating for
around six people at the counter. But don’t worry; if you walk up the dark
brown wooden stairs you’ll reach the second floor offering more seating. Dimmed
lamps and white candles light the place and create a calm and romantic
atmosphere that becomes vivid through laughter and browsing conversations from
the people who enjoy their dinner here.
We arrived around 8pm on a Tuesday evening and the ground floor was
fully booked. A little table with polished wine glasses, little pretty plates
and white napkins was waiting for Judith and me. A look into the menu reminded
my stomach of how much it was looking forward to this culinary experience and I
was more than happy when the friendly waiter brought a little basket with fresh
bread and black garlic butter. The bread is homemade and comes straight from the
sister place of ‘La Buvette’; ‘Hopla Geiss’, the bakery, is located just on the
opposite side of the street. We were offered wine and both went for a glass of
Lard de Choix, a light, dry natural wine (I need to practice on my wine jargon)
that I enjoyed a lot. All wines are carefully chosen by the famous sommelier
Matthieu Dubrana and also the other red wine that I had with my main dish was a
bit sparkly, quite light and perfectly chosen.
You want to know what you can expect food-wise from a dinner at ‘La
Buvette’? Well, it is certainly surprising, refreshing, pleasing and widening
your culinary horizon. No dish is like the other and ingredients are carefully
picked and matched with each. The menu can change partially every day,
depending on what the chefs finds on the market. Dishes are then rehearsed
during the day, looking for that perfect match of fresh ingredients. One thing
that I found interesting here is that you really need to take a little piece of
every piece on your plate, including the sauce, put it on your fork and then
into your mouth. It is the ensemble of ingredients that create that explosion
of different tastes. Dishes on the menu are described by just three words,
leaving space for your imagination and surprise when it arrives at your table.
It kicked off with squid / daikon’s water / artichoke, a fresh and
light taste. The spinach / ricotta / sesame surprised me with its creamy
texture and then some crispy details because of the caramelized sesame seeds. It
continued with asparagus / acacia honey / rhubarb, a crunchy sound when eating
the green asparagus together with a hint of sour from the rhubarb. The
following dish of lean fish / laurel / buckwheat made my heart skip a beat.
Creamy risotto with delicious foam and this fish – crispy skin and very tender
meat – were just perfect. Octopus / nduja / black lemon looked a lot like a
piece of art and reminded us presentation-wise of the ‘Ops, I dropped the lemon
tart’ dessert by a very famous Italian chef from Perugia. Veal / black olive /
anchovy pleased us with its incredible tenderness and the filling – oh my! Time
for dessert with fennel / strawberry / tarragon – the perfect concert of
tastes, freshness and delight, pasteis de nata / granny smith, a reinvention of
the traditional Portuguese pastry and finally chocolate tart / hazelnut /
kumquat, a soft and very chocolatey tart with homemade chocolate on top.
After we finished this marvelous 9-course experience, we had a
little chat with Damien, who was keen to tell us stories about the place, his
experience and all other questions that were on our hearts and even asked me
for a few recommendations for Amsterdam that I happily gave him.
This place is great for an easygoing dinner with a bunch of friends,
with your parents visiting and even for a date it’s a great choice. Just make
sure you have enough topics to talk about, because 9-courses mean a long night.

Prices: 49€ for 6 courses, 64€ for 9 courses, and absolutely worth it

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