Restaurant Review: Au Gré du Vent, Seneffe, Belgium (*)

It’s my mum’s Birthday, and what better way to celebrate than to take her out for a nice Sunday lunch.  We originally wanted to go to Antwerp, so that we might be able to spend the day there (I love Antwerp), but unfortunately we could not find a Michelin star restaurant open on a Sunday.  Can anyone suggest a good restaurant open in Antwerp on a Sunday?

We looked elsewhere and decided to go to Au Gré du Vent because it is a Michelin restaurant with a woman chef, Stéphanie Thunus.  Something we felt was appropriate for my feminist mum.  It would also be the first woman chef Michelin restaurant we have visited and we wondered whether we would notice a difference?

The restaurant is in the middle of nowhere, in a modern building, surrounded by cows, sheep, and a canal.  It was a beautiful day, and on arriving we had a strong feeling that it would have been nice to go for a summer bike ride along the canal instead of going inside for a 4 course meal!   The meal did not disappoint, and as the afternoon went on, the wine flowed, the chat grew more excited and the food became more spectacular we slowly started to forget about the beautiful weather outside.

To prepare us for our meal, and to help the celebratory glass of champagne go down we were served the following for the Amuse Bouche:’mackerel lollipop’, ‘peanut marshmallow’, ‘Carrot Ice Cream with finely diced carrots and a coriander crumble’, ‘Beef cheek with mozzarella foam’,  ‘warm salmon with taramasalata and Japanese cooked rice’,  and ‘Shrimps with shrimp chips’.   I most enjoyed the peanut marshmallow, there was an intense taste of peanuts, offset with a sweet and salty peanut caramel flavour, accompanied by melting marshmallow and crunchy peanuts.  It had the sweet, salty, soft, crunchy and intensity that you want from a mouthful.  We were off to a good start.

We went for the Menu Coup de Coeur, and included the cheese.  The menu consisted of:

Mackerel with Cucumber Granita and Yoghurt

Slow Cooked Egg with Morels, peas and asparagus

Lamb, Courgette, Basil, Red Pepper

Selection of Cheese

Celery Sorbet

Strawberries, Rhubarb, Genoise, Verveine Cream, Sesame Seed Tuile, Strawberry Jelly, and a special fruit tea

Coffee with Eclairs, Apricot Jellies, Pistachio Macaron, Strawberry Mojito Cream.

The Mackerel was delightful, and the dish that most represented a female touch.  It was pretty but full of flavour.

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Mackerel with Cucumber Granita

The Slow Cooked Egg was absolutely delicious.  It is one of those dishes that seems really easy (it is just an egg), but its also one of those dishes that can go very wrong.  This dish really allowed the chef to show off her skills, and show off she did, it was perfectly executed.  I particularly liked the Morel foam on top.

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Slow Cooked Egg with Morels, Peas and Asparagus

The lamb dish split the table.  My husband thoroughly enjoyed all the flavours, but my mum less so.  For me, some of the concepts on the dish were fantastic – there was something crispy in the dish which I have no idea how it was made.  It was like a crispy piece of lamb flavoured with red pepper… amazing.  The lamb, however, was too underdone.  I like my lamb underdone, but my lamb had not been crisped up on the outside, so instead I got a lot of underdone fat, which I had to leave to one side.  This was a real shame, because the Red Peppers were bursting with flavour.

They had a good selection of cheese.  The farm butter they used had the correct level of salty butterness.  We were also served a selection of bread, including olive, sundried tomatoes and raison – all of which were equally deserving and full of flavour.  The celery sorbet was a perfect way to cleanse the palate and prepare us for dessert!

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Lamb, Courgette, Basil, Red Pepper

I love strawberries and Rhubarb – its a perfect early summer combination. The dessert was delicious and well executed, but unfortunately it did not wow us.  We were however left with a clean palate so that we could enjoy the mini desserts we received with the coffee, and we all thoroughly licked our lips with the eclair.

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Strawberries and Rhubarb

The pairing wines were not only of excellent quality but also matched perfectly with each course.  There was an unusual Muscadet with a lemon tang which went perfectly with the mackerel.  I really enjoyed the buttery taste and lemony finish of the Jura which again perfectly accompanied the egg.

The Service was also of a high quality.  The staff were young, but informed.  They gave just the right amount of flirting for us to feel special and funny (as one likes to feel when out for dinner), and clearly enjoyed their job.

4/5 A very pleasant atmosphere, with a well researched menu, very well executed and full of fresh flavours.

 

 

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