It might seem that I’m not writing that many restaurant blog-posts anymore lately… I just visited fewer restaurants in Belgium this last year as I’ve been more abroad and visiting vineyards. I had to choose, one or the other…
Like every year, this year I organised another dinner with a whole group of friends. What is so special about these dinners and different than other dinners we organise is that once a year the restaurant is more Gastronomical. The last few year’s we used to go to Sergio Herman’s 1 Michelin restaurant Pure C (where we have always had great meals). This year however we chose to do it closer to home as the only date we could find where most people could come was a Friday evening. This year “our” choice (or better my choice as I tend to push my choice 🙂 ) went to restaurant Graanmarkt 13 that earlier this week was elected as best Flemish vegetable restaurant of 2015. Even before they had been elected it was already known that Chef Seppe Nobles liked working with vegetables as he is one of the few (or to my knowledge the only) restaurant with a city garden on the roof of his restaurant 🙂 (including beehives to make his own honey).
Graanmarkt 13 has already been in Antwerp for a few years now, but it was not until recently the restaurant came on my radar of restaurants I want(ed) to try… The dinner with friends seemed like the perfect occasion to try it and spoil my taste buds. I’m not sure when they exactly changed their concept, but until recent Graanmarkt 13 was like most gastronomical restaurants in the area with an ‘ à la carte’ menu, tasting menus, tablecloths, etc… Nowadays Graanmarkt 13 exchanged all that for a cozy and comfortable interior only serving a 2 course menu for lunch (29EUR) and a 3 course menu for dinner (39EUR), that both can be extended with a few appetizers (at normal prices), 1 extra dish or course and/or cheese (the last to either on top of or replacing dishes in the menu). Also both menus have a vegetarian alternative. So basically gastronomy that is reachable for everybody to try without the posh atmosphere around it. I’m also sure that this way of working makes it both easier on the kitchen as the customers as too much choice only complicates things.
My wife, who is pregnant for over 3 months now (you cannot believe how long I’ve wanted to say it on my blog) and therefore has a few restrictions of things she’s allowed to eat,was happy when she found out and saw Graanmarkt 13 had alternatives for her to eat 🙂 🙂 . They also indicated that if there were still some things in the menu that had to be replaced there was no problem (we can also say for a fact they do like this). So also here size doesn’t matter, even on a small menu you’ll find something of your liking 😉 😉
As we were all greedy people we (not only me) choose to take some extra appetizers where fresh vegetables play a lead role. Normally a plate of appetizers is enough for 2 people. I do advice you to take “Tomatoes with black chocolate” as those were some of the best tomatoes ever!! They had so much more flavor than the regular tomatoes you buy!! Not sure though if they were from his own garden or if they came from a farmer?? Please feast your eyes on our appetizers (scroll over the picture to know what it was) I was also a big fan of the Farm egg with black summer truffle. I didn’t try the figs with goat cheese as I’m not really crazy about goat cheese … but my friends ordered 2 plates of it so I guess they liked it.
The menu of the night:
Meagre / sorrel / chervil / fennel / cabbage / algae / sake
Horn of plenty / leek / monkfish / lentils / Lardo di Colonnata
Young carrot / artichoke / Holstein “Sirloin” / quinoa / pepper
Banana / butterscotch / hazelnut / chocolate / Jack Daniel’s
The extra course was a Barley risotto with porcini
Alternative starter was Tomatoes with Burrata
With these dishes Seppe Nobels shows that with a few simple ingredients brought together one can make a whole celebration meal that doesn’t have to be expensive 🙂 as that is how I saw this anyway…You guys also know how I like it when a chef has the motto “Keep it simple”!! Simple is best (If the simple is well prepared that is)
My biggest “fear” for our dinner at Graanmarkt 13 was that they would only be having Organic or Bio wines. Some or of them are good but lots of them are not and have a weird taste to them… luckily they had very nice wines on wine list 🙂 🙂 and when seeing Filipa Pato wine on the menu I just felt obligated, first of all because I like her wines and because via this way I support Portuguese wine!! After that we chose to take a bit “stronger” wine, a Sancerre Rouge ( Loire Valley)by Paul Cherrier which to our opinion would match good with the Holstein sirloin.
Ending your dinner at Graanmarkt 13 can be in no better way than with warm homemade Madeline’s with homemade honey (and on top get the recipe to try it at home). A perfect ending of a perfect time with friends paired with the perfect food.
For people between 18 -30 years old are lucky as Graanmarkt 13 is also participating with Jong keukengeweld you can eat a 3 course menu (drinks included) for 45 or 55 EUR. Every year the list of young chefs participating gets better and better and every year more and more restaurants come on my list to try …