Bistro Vintage 2.0

As you might know, I almost never write 2 times about the same restaurant… but sometimes I make an exception.  Last weekend my wife and I thought it was time again for a date. Basically a moment without our 2 lovely children 🙂  The checklist for our date: eating outside, reachable by bike and great food/wines.   The place that checked all the boxes was Bistro Vintage!! Only 8minutes by bike, a wonderful garden aaaaand very gastronomical.

Bistro Vintage used to be the ‘second’ restaurant of the 2 Michelin star awarded restaurant Nuance. Back at that time the few times I had a meal here, the food was good, but there was something missing… or rather someone. In my opinion (and I had heard other people sharing that same opinion) what was missing was maturity and somebody more experienced in the restaurant.  I always found it a pity that a restaurant in such a beautiful location and so much potential didn’t meet up 100% with expectations.

The trigger for me to visit and write about Bistro Vintage again was/is because of 1 person Steven Wullaert (former head-sommelier of restaurant Nuance) who took over Bistro Vintage about a year ago 🙂 .  I was pretty sure that Steven would be able to get the restaurant back on track and bring the (for me) needed experience to the restaurant and take it to the top.

My guts was right! Everything I had hoped for that would change after Steven’s arrival, changed in a positive way. From the moment you enter the restaurant until you leave again you can feel the organization. This combined with great food and the company of beautiful my wife made it a wonderful date!!

Although the ‘a la carte’ menu looked wonderful and every dish on it would make my taste buds very happy, we decided to go for the tasting menu. The same actually goes for the wine list 🙂 I gave my full confidence to Steven… why wouldn’t I, in 2012 Steven won the title of Best Sommelier of Belgium AND he worked for many years as head sommelier of a 2 Michelin Star restaurant (not even talking about everything he did before)… so I’m pretty sure if somebody should advise us nobody better than him 🙂

After a few delicious appetizers we were served our menu starting with braised beef with Artichoke, beet, fermented garlic and Savora Mustard, followed by Breton sardine, tomato, Romanesco, Rouille and almond. As main course we were served slow cooked veal with focaccia, curry, cauliflower feta, pesto and pommes soufflées.

The strawbery on the cake was the dessert ( no cherries for us this time;-) ;-))  Strawberry with champagne parfait, Cara Crakine sugar, petit gervais ice cream and sugar waffle.

As for the wines, I got another important lesson!! I still have lot to learn and taste 🙂  As Steven knows I’m a big wine lover he never told me up front which wines he served with the dishes…  so basically it was up to me to tell him what it was. In my defense, I’m not a professional sommelier (and I don’t pretend to be, I’m only surrounded by many all the time), nor do I taste/drink every day … which basically makes it all more difficult. My biggest ‘problem’ during tastings is often that I do recognize what I smell and taste, but linking it with the correct wine isn’t always easy… On many occasions I do guess it, but unfortunately also many where I don’t 🙂 🙂 but that’s the fun of the game I guess, isn’t it?

Anyhow I would advise everybody to visit Bistro Vintage 2.0 and hopefully they’ll like version 2.0 as much as I did!!

Austria meets South America

When I saw our friends from Young Charly were doing  a wine & dine evening with Salomon wines at a South American restaurant (A’sur), I must say I was intrigued to try it. Basically another excuse for a night out with friends 🙂 🙂 .  The Salomon Undhof winery is one the most famous names in Austria as they did many important contributions in the Austrian viticulture history. They were one of the first ones  to export Austrian wines to the EU and the USA (to give one example). The winery is situated along the Danube River around the twin medieval towns of Krems and Stein, the Kremstal region is right next to the Wachau and the same latitude as Burgundy in fact, Krems is a sister city to Beaune. Not that this is of high importance, but just a nice to know 🙂  Today it is already the 7th generation of the Salomon family who is running the winery and the next generation is ready to continue in their parents’ food steps as it was Fanny-Marie (daughter of current owner) who came to Belgium to present their wines.  What is also nice to know is that besides the vineyards in Austria, the family also has vineyards in Australia and New Zealand. The reason why they also have vineyards at the other side of the world, is because the current owner Dr. Bert Salomon had moved there with his family many years ago . But when taking over the reins of  the Austrian vineyard from his older brother the family decided to move back to Austria.  Although technically speaking they follow the sun as first they do the harvest in Austria and in January/February they do the harvest in Australia and they all move there to help 🙂  That maybe also explains Fanny-Marie’s sunny smile 😉

At the Salomon Undhof winery they only produce 2 types of wine (but of TOP level) Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. The famous Riesling of the estate groes on the top sites of Kögl and Pfaffenberg. The Grüner Veltliner Von Stein comes from the steep terraced hills behind the old town of Stein. The best “loess” soils provide the Lindberg and Wachtberg Grüner Veltliner. All the grapes are harvested traditionally by hand only… so you can imagine the time and effort it takes to produce the wines.  At the winery they only use stainless steel tanks, so no wooden barrels that results in intriguing, pure, honest and complex wines that can be drunk immediately.

We started our journey through the Salomon winery with ¨their Grüner Veltliners, the 2016 ‘Wieden’ and 2015 ‘Krems’ that got served with and appetizer with pork belly  followed by one of my favorite dishes ever a ceviche from gilt-head bream.  The 2016 had a nose of ripe yellow plum. The palate brings more Grüner Veltliner savoriness, with hints of yeast and a bit herby. It is dry in mouthfeel, it refreshes with a lovely herbal citrus tang on the finish.  The 2015 (that gets my preference) is juicier with a herbal touch reminiscent of fresh sage and a very savory finish. For the dish the 2016 seemed like a better fit (to me) as it added that extra bit of freshness. Basically wines that ask for sunny weather (just like today… so guess what I’ll be having tonight 😉 )

As a surprise Fanny-Marie had brought a 2009 Krems-Stein Grüner Veltliner. Personally it wasn’t 100% my taste, but for my table guest it was (so it was just me 🙂 ). It was a rich wine with a almost oily texture. In the mouth you notice the intense flavor of  ripe fruit with the yellow fruit flavors dominating acidity and peppery taste.  Nevertheless my personal opinion, it was a great pleasure to have tasted it. This wine was served with Brussels sprouts South American style 🙂 I didn’t see that one coming .

Now we change our path and move towards the Rieslings, the wines the winery is famous for:-)  here we were served the 2016 Riesling ‘Stein a. d. Donau’ and 2015  Pfaffenberg and here again Fanny-Marie had a 1996 Pfaffenberg as a surprise for us. The 2016 Citrus (orangy zest) with a touch of exotic (mango I think it was). Juicy, pleasant fruit sweetness with fine acidity and honey on the finish. With the smell of the 2015 you get an instant feel of happiness in the package 🙂 That and fresh lemon zest notes (aka spring). The palate is so precise, so much tension that you can almost feel the citrus flavors exploding in your mouth. A beautiful aromatic Riesling that can described with words like glorious, long, ripe and freshness.  For the 1996 it was more intense apple and mineral flavors that are accented of salt/ peppery notes. A powerful finish though.  Wines that went very nice with the seabass we were served.

As I’m not a big cheese fan I skipped the cheese, but got a lovely pineapple dessert to match one of my favorites, the Niepoort Colheita. There were some jealous people around me, I can tell you that 😉

A very nice introduction of wines I didn’t know too much about. Athough you notice that Austrian wines are finding their way more and more towards Belgium… both in restaurants and homes. I can’t wait to discover more of their wines or Austrian wines in general… I think a wine trip to Austria needs to be done!! And who new South America and Austria could walk hand in hand. Thank you to the A’sur team, Young Charly and Fanny-Marie for making this evening possible!!

Passion with a capital P

I finally found some time to write another blogpost. After 2 weeks of Easter holiday with a 10 month and a 3 year old 🙂  relaxing was not part of the daytime tasks, I can tell you that. But luckily some evenings I was raised from my function so I could relax a bit 🙂 . The last few years I have been fortunate enough to have had great meals in extraordinary restaurants. When I say extraordinary I don’t necessarily mean awarded restaurants, but rather restaurants that have built a very good reputation over the years and who’s reputation travels from mouth to mouth. A few weeks ago I ended up in one of these kind of places. We ended-up in wine restaurant ‘De Notenkraker’ (The Nutcracker) situated in a ‘lesser known’ neighborhood  in the ‘suburbs’ from Antwerp. Besides the refined food, the restaurant thanks its reputation to the incredible wine assortment they have (at affordable prices). De Notenkraker might ‘only’ be a neighborhood restaurant to many people, but I know many high-end restaurants that would be jealous of this wine list. It is the perfect restaurant for a wine lover, not a label drinker… as the owner’s opinion is (and I agree) one has to drink a wine because it is good and not just because it has a particular label. What makes this restaurant so special is that you can feel the passion. When you hear Donald (owner) speak about food and wine, it feels like he takes you on a trip  … Donald always  knows many anecdotes, interesting facts and details about all the wines and their wineries that are very fascinating. The reason he knows all of this is, besides having build up lots of experience over the year, he tries to visit most vineyards of the wines he serves.

As we knew the chef’s (Donald) reputation, we gave him carte blanche. Something when looking back we don’t regret!!

To start we were served home smoked salmon that got accompanied by a 2009 Pierson-Cuvelier Champagne Grand cru Millésimé. A very nice champagne that hadnotes of pear and star anise. Nice acidity on the mouth with fruity pleasure with a tight and lively bubble.

The next dish we were served, was one of those dishes you want to ask another plate of 🙂 . We were served river eel (smoked and glazed) with foie gras and poached quail eggs(and as little extra we got some hop shoots, mmmmm) HEAVENLY. This combined with a 2016 white wine from Rias Baixas (Spain) , Cies by Rodrigo Méndez made it even better. Later I found out that  Cies obtained a score of 92 at Parker (that is the only wine critic without commercial interest in the wine industry) which is very high score. The wine has a beautiful mineral nose, which is a bit atypical for Albariño, less exotic, more tight with nice acidity in the nose. This is also the same sensation I had in the mouth. Much content and length. Superb acids, guarantee for longevity. A true gastronomical wine.

But the best was still to come… Danish codfish with a raw chicory salad, a homemade remoulade sauce and our crispy U-fries. Simplicity itself, but oooh so good!! The cod fish got served with a 2011 Grand Cru ‘sommerberg’ Rieseling by Albert Boxler(Alsace). Albert Boxler is a winery that until recent nobody knew, but now everybody wants… A small family owned winery that works traditionally using techniques and ‘savoir faire’ that got passed down across multiple generations with beautiful end products as result. The wine had very deep, complex aromas of ripe citrus fruits, underbrush and sweet spices. Fresh and tactile, with a rich mouthfeel to its yellow plum and ripe grapefruit flavors. Finishes full and long. Real beauty!!

I can say for a fact that I had a very pleasant evening with great food and wines topped with the passion of Donald (owner and chef). A restaurant that serves honest food and wines without make up for honest prices… a recipe for an incredible evening! I’m sure our path’s will cross again.

The butcher’s son

With a restaurant name like ‘The Butcher’s son’ it leaves little to the imagination what type of cuisine they prepare. Let’s just say it’s not a veggie place 🙂  . The butcher’s son is as you might have already expected a restaurant with as mean topic on the menu meat. Although Luc Dickens (one of the 2 owners) told me they don’t want to be the typical meat restaurant with only men as customers… They want to open up their restaurant to everybody and therefor chose for a more “general” menu. If somebody wants vegetarian or more “hard-core” meat dishes like specific intestines it is all possible :-).


When I first heard their name I (and I think most people) presumed that either Luc Dickens or Bert Jan Michielsen (the 2 owners) would be the son of a butcher… right? After hearing the real story behind the name I think the name ‘the butcher’s adopted son’ would be more correct 🙂 🙂  . At a particular day Bert Jan was supposed to take the train back home, unfortunately missed his train. As it dates back to a pre-cellphone period Bert Jan had to look for a place where he could call and inform his parents .  This search brought him to a nearby butcher shop De Laet & Van Haver. As he had to wait a while before his parents were able to pick him up, the shop owner suggested if Bert Jan wanted he could role some meatballs while waiting . To make a long story short (but you know I prefer telling the long story) this was the beginning of a life long friendship and many weekends (after words full time)of  working at the De Laet & Van Haver’s butcher shop and catering business  in Hove … and today a collaboration with them and having a restaurant right next to their new butcher shop in the old Antwerp city brewery of De Koninck . In other words the owner saw Bert Jan as his son…


I know Luc and Bert Jan mostly from their years working at the highly awarded restaurant De Schone Van Boskoop and Luc I also know from the Belgian Sommelier Guild .

Luc and Bert Jan by Resengo

I’m also a fan of their location in the old Antwerp city brewery of De Koninck . I say old, but it is still an active brewery, but as after restructuring the brewery they had some parts they weren’t going to use anymore they freed up this space to create an oasis of food 🙂 and bring creative/passionate people together. You can find craftsmen like  cheese master, chocolatier, butchers, etc… here. I do recommend everybody to visit it (even if you don’t want to eat their) as it is worth it. You’ll find more info on the brewery on the following link.

Butcher son 2 Butcher son

I know it sounds unbelievable but I do always try to keep it as short as possible… but I always want you guys to get the whole picture and all the info :-).

For our meal my friends and I chose to first go for all the refined meat appetizers  (all home made in the next door butcher shop) they have on their menu with exception for the 1 non meat dish 🙂 What we basically had was : dry aged  Secreto 07 (a product the Adria ‘El Bulli’ brothers also sell in their restaurants and shops in Barcelona); Calf Brains with tartar sauce; Pig head with mustard; 18 months Duroc ham de Batallé; Croquette of pork leg with pickles and some game pâté. Very nice selection, me personally I wasn’t a fan of the brains, but that clearly was a personal opinion as my table guests could have eaten a second plate 🙂 I must admit that it was also the first time I tried it in my entire life… To accompany these appetizers it seemed more that logic to take a beer made in the local brewery and that perfect marriage to my opinion… FYI the brewery makes specialty darker beers so not a pils.

Food 1 Food 2

For my mean course the first idea was to take an Entrecôte , but when I saw they had a sweetbread videe on their menu my mind was made up. A videe is  a puff pastry that gets filled with a kind of chicken and mushroom stew.  In this case the stew had next to the chicken and meatballs some sweetbread and got finished of with some hollandaise sauce. On itself not a special dish you might think, but trust me finding a good prepared videe is not an easy task!  My problem was that the videe was for 2 persons… so I had to convince one  my of 2 table guests taking it with me 🙂 I might not be a sales person, but I do know who to get it my way 🙂 🙂 the other person at my table however  took an Entrecôte.


Best decision ever to take the Videe as it is by far the best I’ve ever eaten!!  I know when we saw the dish arriving we had to share both I as my buddy thought we’d be fighting for who got the last bit as it didn’t seem enough… but our eyes were bigger then our stomachs as the dish was heavier. So instead of fighting it was rather suggesting the other one to have the last bit 😉 🙂  Nevertheless a wonderful dish!!

As we had the luck of having a sommelier at our table (and no I’m not referring to myself as I’m just an amateur sommelier) who was even a former finalist of the Best Sommelier of Belgium competition. His choice for wine went to a 2014 Spanish Garnacha Cellers Joan d’Anguera Altaroses D.O. Montsant. Good choice Bram!!


When we thought the night couldn’t become better, there came the bottle of the 1976 Madeira 🙂 🙂 FYI we just drunk a glass of it, not the whole bottle…

Wonderful food and a marvelous evening I recommend to everybody.


40 Years Young Charly

A few weeks ago the ‘beau-monde’ from the wineworld gathered to celebrate the 40 years existence of Young Charly. It was 40 years ago that the Mortlmans family or better father Mortelmans opened his small wineshop in Merksem. Back then they only sold French wine. First of all because that was the wine country father Mortelmans loved, but also at that time in Belgium 95% of the wines drunk in Belgium were French. It was only upon arrival of son Mortelmans aka William that they broadened their selection with Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (to name a few) wines. In 40years Young Charly grew out into one of the biggest wine importers and sellers in Belgium, representing some of the most renowned wine estates around like Ornelaia, Gaja, Col d’orcia, Masi, etc…


I have known Young Charly whole my life, not always as a drinker though 🙂 At young age I remember always driving by the Young Charly shop in Merksem with my dad when going to a big supermarket further down the street or to look for Porcini mushrooms. As a wine drinker, I have to be honest I only started visiting their shop more often after a friend of mine started working there 🙂 So basically I have to thank this friend as thanks to Young Charly I discovered lots of wines that until then I only knew by name. To me what is important for a wineshop, is being guided before you do a purchase. I mean I usually buy wine according to a dish/meal I’ll be preparing and it is with that menu I go to the wine shop with the hope they’ll be able to help me finding a perfect match… With Young Charly I’ve always found that match!!

Young charly 2 Young charly 3 Young charly

When I was asked to join this ‘beau-monde’ to celebrate the 40 years of Young Charly I didn’t need too much convincing after the mentioned it was at restaurant ‘t Fornuis (in Antwerp 1* since 80’s and an institute in Belgium) and that 4 top wine estates would be present. Basically a combo of top sommeliers, journalists, amazing food and unforgettable wines…




The 4 wine estates that were present were Niepoort, Col d’orcia, Artadi and Michel Chapoutier and they brought their best stuff 🙂 A sommelier’s meal wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t asked to taste everything blind and respond to some questions. From the wines of Artadi, Niepoort and Col d’orcia we had to guess the vintage, for Michel Chapoutier we knew the vintage, but we had to guess the ‘terroir’ 🙂 Could it become more difficult? In my case I have to admit that it was mostly guessing I did. I did always now which was the oldest and the youngest wines… but to really tell which vintage or even crazier the piece of land they come from was a bridge to far for me as I’m not a top sommelier like the others present 🙂







The wines we ended up tasting:

Although all the wines were good, there is always that wine you prefer over the others. Which in my case were the Batuta 2013; the Ermitage Le Méal; Viña el Pison 2007 and the Col d’orcia 1995 🙂 .Strange enough you also immediately find out the people sharing the same taste pallet as you. The funniest tasting or revealing of the wines we tasted was without any doubt the one from Niepoort. I like Dirk Niepoort a lot, I have never met a wine enthusiast as big as him. Besides making lots of different types of official wines, he also has countless projects running besides that and on top of that he supports lots of new young wine markers trying to find their way through the world of winery. His comments of this wines were basically that he didn’t like any of the wines he brought 🙂 🙂 but said that even though some of the wines were bad, they matched perfectly with the food they were served with :-). Again, he’s a wonderful person who love wine and has it running through his vanes like no other :-).

dav dav

The fact that this celebration was at restaurant ‘t Fornuis was special to me as the restaurant has been on my list for a loooooooong long time, but never managed to get there. The restaurant serves classic Belgian/French cuisine from the highest level using the best ingredients available!! The might seem simple to the eye, but I can say for a fact that never to judge a book by its cover as sometimes the simple things are the most difficult to make.

We started with a ‘crab salad’, followed by surf and turf 🙂 leek with sweetbread, langoustine and truffle sausage. The main course was a fancy chicken (I forgot which one it was :-)) with Morel mushrooms and chicken kidneys. We finished our meal with crema catalana and a lemon meringue. If there is a heaven I hope they serve all of this (including the wines 😉 )!! It all tasted heavenly. I always love dishes with deep flavors in it!!

crab salade dav dav dav dav dav

The only thing I don’t like about meals/events like this with winemakers? I end up liking the wines very much, buying them and in the end going on a wine trip to visit the wineries 🙂 eeeeeeeeeevery time again… I need more holiday to visit all of them and more room to store the wines 😉 😉

It was again amazing to be part of something this wonderful!! I can’t wait for Young Charly to celebrate its 50 years anniversary 🙂

Website Young Charly:

All you need is love

I’m not too much into all the Valentine fuzz, but the restaurant where I wanted to make reservations just happened to have an open spot at the same date 🙂 So if it makes you happy that I call it a Valentine’s day dinner, I will…

BUN logo

It was already for a while that my wife and I wanted to eat at Vietnamese street-food restaurant ‘BÚN‘ in the city center of Antwerp. Every time passed by it, it just looked so cozy  and the plates very tasteful. Also every time we said we have to come here some day…  I had also read the host of BÚN  Huibrecht was the former maître of restaurant Pure C and the hostess Hao Truong that worked a long time in her sister Truong Thi Quyên aka Gwen ‘s famous restaurant ( know from a cooking show on the Belgian Food channel Njam about Vietnamese food)  Little Asia in Brussels. So a winning combo I’d think and a reason for us to go?!

Huibrecht and Hao Truong by Nieuwsblad

Our ‘we have to go here some day’ took a bit longer than expectedfirst of  all because  of the fact the restaurant can only sit around 16 people. So finding a free space is harder and if you want to make reservations it has to be after 20h 🙂 Which in our case means finding a babysit of have a sleepover at the grandparents for our little baby girl… which you only want to do when your  baby is not sick and the fact it’s winter time doesn’t make it easier 🙂 BUT luck was at our side like I said before on valentine’s day 🙂 You can also go before 20h, but in that case it’s just the walk in principle as no reservations are taken before 20h

When I think of Vietnamese cuisine, I think of Chinese food but a bit more spicy and spring rolls aka Nems (as I used to eat lots of these in a little Asian place behind highschool 🙂 ) I know sad of me!! Keen on learning/ eating something new we entered the restaurant to.  What was funny to me was that Huibrecht (who used to work as maître) was cooking and Hao (who I think used to cook) serves the customers… I would have expected it the other way around. Nevertheless I had a very nice night with a lot of coziness. I know not everybody likes to sit at the bar to eat, but in our case it just felt right! Coziness, but obviously also loooooooots of love in the air. Us sitting at the bar brought back lots of great memories of the time we used to life in Gent and had lots of nice dinners at a little restaurant (Fin du monde)  at the bar… aaah good old days 😉

On the menu all dishes I didn’t know, so we just took almost everything on it 🙂 Except the soups, as I’m not a too big asian soup fan… but I did have Tofu (my wife ordered it while I was in the bathroom 🙂 it was nice, but Tofu will never become a friend of mine..

For drinks we took wine, but they do also have a nice assortment of fresh fruit juices like a ginger with pumpkin and mint juice 🙂 for the lovers 🙂

Fresh spring roll with mackerel

Steamed bun WVLR beef

Steamed bun WVLR beef

Grilled chicken with peanut and curry

Deep fried Brasvar pork rolls

Tofu with rice noodles and lemongrass

As a dessert we took the suggestion of the evening a coconut/rice beignet  with passion fruit (I could feel the electricity in the air)


If this is street-food than I can say that I’m a big fan of street-food! I do enjoy that they serve their dishes tapas style to share and at non exuberant prices which allows you to take more  and discover more of this kind of cuisine

See you again very soon!

Patience gets rewarded

After 3 months of impatient waiting it was finally my turn to try The Jane’s ‘regular’ restaurant.. For my friends reading this and don’t know The Jane:The Jane is one of the 2 restaurants from master chef Sergio Herman a former 3 Michelin Star restaurant owner(Oud Sluis)… although former??  If you make the sum of the Michelin stars from his 2 restaurants you also get 3, so technically speaking he still owns 3 Michelin stars 🙂 . Besides being a gastronomical temple The Jane is also known for its location in an old chapel that has been redesigned in a splendid way (for sure something to see for architectural fans)

The Jane 1

The Jane 5

Sergio Herman and executive chef Nick Bril by

The last time I set foot in this restaurant it was to experience the Upper room bar that, to just say it with one word, was ‘excellent’!! Overtopping that last experience would seem difficult… or so I thought!! In their ‘regular’ restaurant they have, next to their great food, an extra secret weapon called ‘Gianluca di Taranto’ aka The Jane’s sommelier who’s enthusiasm about wine/drinks is contagious 🙂 (for as far I wasn’t enthusiastic ).  Gianluca knows I’m a big wine lover and he also knew that one of my table guests is a professional sommelier… So I think his enthusiasm must have gone in overdrive to have us taste more special things 🙂  Don’t worry my dear readers, at The Jane everybody gives and gets the same dedication at their table!

Gianluca di taranto by

I think the key of The Jane‘s success is ‘enthusiasm/passion’. Every staff member seems to have that same drive/enthusiasm for the part he/she does and they all seem to seek the same goal, reaching the top and giving every person  that walks in for a meal the same unbelievable experience (no matter if they are eating a few dishes at the upper bar room or a 9 course meal, if they only drink water or they empty their whole winecellar) I know, that’s what most restaurants aim, but in this case every staff member seems to want the same thing or at least that’s my impression of the 2 times I’ve been at The Jane!! Two thumbs up for The Jane‘s team!!

The Jane Personnel by BE_Gusto

The big difference to me between the Upper room bar and The Jane is the kind of food they serve. The upper room bar serves more ‘comfort food’ served in a refined way, whereas ‘The Jane‘ serves gastronomical food… At the upper room bar you can choose your dishes ‘à la carte’, making the Upper Room bar more accessible for everybody and for everybody’s taste pallet (which is also the purpose from what I understood when talking with Nick Bril (executive chef) ). At the ‘regular’ restaurant you can choose between a fix 7, 8 or 9 course menu paired with the perfect wine, cocktail, beer or other drink.

The golden mean to my friends and me seemed to be the 8 course meal paired with whatever our friend Gianluca wanted us to try to get the ultimate The Jane experience!! A pairing journey taking us all over the world from the Champagne region in France through The Jane’s own Champagne blend… to the Andalusian coast with a glass of Equipo Navazos Fino Sherry as a perfect match with the North Sea Oyster. To bring us back to Belgium with a glass of Belgian pride aka a Triple Beer from a small brewery near Arlon called La Rulles


Just FYI, all dishes are served per 2 courses with little time between after every pair of dishes you get some extra time to enjoy, relax and look forward to what is about to follow 🙂

We started our evening with a nice selection of ‘amuses’ or ‘appetizers’ that were a feast for both the eyes as the taste buds!

Humus dav dav mde

We continued with 6 ‘first’ courses, as they were served per pair I display the pictures per pair :-). The first  served  dish was the Salmon with parsnip, buttermilk and mandarin with the mandarin being served as small balls in nitrogen… making the dish mystical :-). Immediately followed by a North sea oyster with Soy, JusJus and Yuzu

Salmon, parsnip, buttermilk and manderine

North sea oyster with Soy, JusJus and Yuzu

The dishes to follow were on the spot made ‘steak tartare’ (that was simply exquisite!!) and Mediterranean scallops with celeriac, Iberico and potato skin.

Steak Tartare 'Before'

Steak Tartare After

scallops with celeriac, Iberico and potato skin

Our journey continued with BBQ cabbage, mussels and bottarga.(Italian style, they made a small cannelloni :-)) Followed by cod fish, brandade and North Sea grey shrimps that look pretty simple to the eye, but it’s not 🙂 .

BBQ cabbage, mussels and bottarga

cod fish, brandade and North Sea grey shrimps

I must admit that vegetarians wouldn’t even be able to look at the main course because of the toes still being on the leg  , luckily I’m not vegetarian 🙂 As main course we were served pigeon with black salsify, beetroot and black pudding.

pigeon with black salsify, beetroot and black pudding

Just to give you an idea how much work and thought is put into each and every dish served at The Jane, it took over 3 months for Jaclyn (person responsible for dessert) to perfection the dessert we were served!! 3 months for only 1 dish!! Yet another example of enthusiasm/passion for what you do, if you don’t have it you wouldn’t put as much effort in it!!  Jaclyn’s effort definitely paid off as it was one very nice dessert 🙂 Only for my friend working at Huawei (previously at Samsung) wasn’t 100% convinced 😉 😉

When Adam meets Jaclyn

After this there still followed a load of sweets to fill the last empty spots in our stomachs..





Impressed that I remember all dishes 😉 I’ll have to admit that if it weren’t for the picture I had taken of the menu I wouldn’t have remembered as much… as I was too busy with enjoying my meal,company and the moment 🙂 Form all the dishes we were served the whole evening  only 1 small amuse was less our thing (for everybody)…

Guys, I’m sure that by now you know the reason behind my loooong long blogpost… the more enthusiastic I am about something, the more I want to share and the longer my posts become!! So I’m not gonna bug you with much more words besides the first ones that pop in my mind after this experience: perfect, full of flavor, very nice staff and an evening to remember!!

Hope to be back soon

The Jane:


Address: Paradeplein 1, 2000 Antwerp – Belgium

reservations online

Because we can


Sometimes, even when you have children, you need to make time for your wife (or maybe husband in your case). This doesn’t mean ‘it’ (meaning your quality time) always has to be at night or very exuberant, sometimes a small lunch will also do the trick :-). So we did just that at Trattoria Francesco & Julia in Antwerp. The trattoria attracted me for a while now, as I pass by it quite often. I also found out that the daughter of the owner is at the same day-care as my little girl.

Francesco and julia

As if I needed more reasons to go eat somewhere, they are also known for their focaccia and boy do I love focaccia!! In case you don’t know what focaccia is, it is like pizza but thicker/higher because of the use of more yeast  in comparison with a regular Pizza. Focaccia is usually seasoned with olive oil, salt, sometimes herbs (mostly rosemary), and in rare cases topped with onion, olives or just like a pizza with tomato sauce, cheese and meats…What also happens is that is baked with olive oil and herbs and when ready filled like a sandwich like in the case of our friends at Francesco & Julia.

Focaccia "Il Bello"

I repeat myself by saying it are the simple things that count and will make the difference!! Is it difficult to make focaccia? No. Is it difficult to make a good focaccia? Yes 🙂 !! Clearly Francesco knows as he makes some great focaccia (FYI also for takeout). What I didn’t know about their trattoria is that they also served other dishes besides Focaccia.  I doubted for a while if I would go for focaccia or a ‘regular dish’…  as if focaccia isn’t regular, but you guys know what I mean.  But why make things more difficult than needed, this time I took focaccia and I’ll come back to try a few other dishes 🙂 problem solved the Spinelli way ;-). I went for the “Il Bello” that was filled with mozzarella, tomato, parma ham and rucola, but the ‘Il Macio’ filled with porcetta, truffle and rucola also looked tempting.  My wife had a mozzarella salad accompanied with her all time favorite drink bubbels (prosecco in this case)


“I” finished with a Tiramisu ‘Francesco’ style which is a revisited version of the traditional version with Amaratti cookies and I guess almond caramel and espuma.


Overall a great lunch with both love on my plate as on the seat right in front of me! I can’t wait to have another Trattoria experience at Francesco & Julia! I do also hope you get the chance to try it either at the trattoria itself or by taking out food.

Trattoria Francesco & Julia


Address: Mechelsesteenweg 76, 2018 Antwerp – Belgium

The last supper of 2015 thanks to Delphine De Pauw

What everybody likes about Christmas besides seeing all relatives again is getting presents!! This year in addition to my presents my sweet love (Delphine De Pauw, but I guess you already figured out that one 🙂 )invited me for a date to end 2015 in a good way. The only thing I knew is the fact we were going out for dinner, who was looking after our little baby girl or where this dinner would take place stayed a surprise until the last minute… the only thing she would tell me was that I mentioned that it was a restaurant on my to do list 🙂 (which basically didn’t help me as my list is very long 😦 ) Belieeeeeeeve me when I say I tried to find it out, but my wife’s lips were sealed 🙂 ). After lots of days of impatient waiting on our way to the restaurant my wife revealed we were having our last supper of 2015 at restaurant Cuichine. Cuichine stands for Cuisine Chinese or better a restaurant serving ‘modern’ Chinese cuisine. Not the typical ‘all you can eat’ place where quantity is mostly more important than quality and they have enormous menu (as that is the first image that pops up in my head when I think of a Chinese restaurant). I think at least 10 years (I think even longer, I was still living with my parents if I remember it well) since my last Chinese restaurant visit.  What primates at Cuichine is quality of the products they use, cooking using modern techniques, but still respecting some traditions but still adding a modern touch.


Although I love dim sum, I decided to take the Peking duck as a starter (as that is told to be one of their signature dishes). My wife on the other hand did take the Dim Sums.



I can hear you think “those are pretty classic dishes”… which is correct, but they did also have a few other dishes on the menu for starters… but the heart or taste buds in this case want what they want 🙂 But can assure you that besides the dim sum and Peking duck all dishes are prepared using modern cooking techniques and presented in a more modern way.


For the mean course I was tempted in taking the onglet ‘black bean’.  My wife had set her senses on the Canadian lobster prepared with ginger, oyster sauce and fresh herbs :-). Just like with our starters sharing was not part of the night (of food that is)we just liked our chosen dishes too much to share them. (usually when somebody asks you to share it is mostly because they don’t like it! Otherwise you just want to keep it all for yourself or does that say a lot about me 🙂 ) I was surprised of the quality of the ‘onglet’, as it is a piece of meat tends to get very tough if prepared wrong (like eating a shoe sole). But in this case the meat was prepared to perfection!!  By the looks of my wife’s plate I think she liked it as there was not too much left besides the shell from the lobster 🙂



The biggest surprise for me was the wine list (which is also not like in you ‘regular’ Chinese restaurant’) as they have a very nice selection from wines, beers etc.. (Also some nice Madeira) from all over the world including BIO wines… I knew the person responsible for the wines (probably the owner) knows his wines and definitely enjoys them from the moment their wine suggestion of the moment was the red FP wine from my dear friends Filipa Pato and William Wouters 🙂 . Found out that not only me, but also the Peking duck seemed to be a Baga friend 🙂 :-).


Normally I’m not really in to taking a chocolate dessert, but a quick sin before the new year resolutions seemed to be in place 🙂 .


To make a long story short it was the perfect restaurant to have our last 2015 supper and hope to enjoy more of their cuisine in the near future. A special thank to my sweet wife for inviting me and can’t wait for our next romantic dinner together 🙂

Restaurant Cuichine


Address: Draakstraat 13, 2018 Antwerp -Belgium

Phone n°: +3232899245

Life is better with a box of chocolates

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My mom has been a loyal client at one of Belgium’s best ‘chocolatiers’ aka Del Rey for many years. Or at least of their tasting lounge that is located right next to their shop where you can eat some of the best desserts (also salty dishes) you can imagine. Me having inherited my mom’s sweet tooth, I am her usual partner in crime when she goes to the Del Rey tasting lounge.  Sometimes a son has to make sacrifices for keeping his mom happy :-).

Del Rey Lounge

chocolate shop

Last weekend we were fortunate enough to have a sneak peek behind the scenes of this wonderful chocolate shop to see the beating heart of the best Belgian chocolates. Officially Del Rey opened its doors in 1949 (back then it was called Maison Ray). But it is not until 1975 that Bernard Proot comes into the picture to learn his craft (art of chocolate) from Chef Arnout Marchand  and take over Del Rey in 1983 with his wife (and what a lovely year that was, I was also born that year so it was the best year ever) and making Del Rey a success story! Such a success that since 2004 you can also buy their chocolates in Japan (which is the only country outside Belgium where you are able to buy them) and being awarded with many prestigious awards.

Del Rey

Del Rey is also a member of the Relais of desserts. The fact that Del Rey was accepted to join this prestigious organisation says enough. The Relais Dessert is basically a group of the best 100 pastry chefs and chocolatiers from all over the world, you can compare it with the San Pellegrino list for restaurants.  My mom and I are fan without any doubt.

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It was actually Bernard’s son Jan Proot (2nd generation and as passionated as his dad when I hear him speak) to give us the tour. Jan joined the company 7 years ago and learned his craft by working at Del Rey and by doing some internships at 2 top pastry/chocolate masters Wittemar and Oberweis (you try looking at those 2 or Del Rey’s website without getting hungry!? I dare you). I’m also convinced that the 3rd generation is assured as Jan’s oldest son (around 3 years old) was asking the whole time if he could make cookies together with his dad or granddad 🙂

Del rey creaties

What some people forget, is how time consuming it is to make chocolates, they just think it is pouring it in a mold and it is done 🙂 I can say for a fact that there is more to it then that (I also learned how to make chocolates when I was in Chef school). Chocolates are made in different stages, first you need to create a base in the mold, let the chocolate set, do the second layer, create filling, etc… with the most important thing to keep in mind -> Patience 🙂 as in between every step you have to wait to be able to continue with the next, multiply this step by X chocolates a day 🙂 (check link for the whole Del Rey chocolate range)  and this is only the chocolates, I’m not even talking about making cakes, american style wedding cakes,  ice cream, macarons or any other type of dessert. This is also why Del Rey is not working with 6 people or less anymore like back in 1975, but with 30 full time people 🙂 I found their area were they work very big, much bigger than I had imagined it… but if I hear Jan or his dad, a bit more space would not hurt 🙂 If I remember it correct they have 1 house from 5 houses. Maybe they should consider a 6th house to create even more space.


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The difference between a chocolatier like Del Rey or for example Leonidas or Godiva is that everything made by Del Rey is handmade, homemade and gets quality checked one by one… as for the other two I mentioned there are more of the mass production (which isn’t necessarily bad, but less refined).  I think that what makes their chocolates so special is the combination of high quality chocolate, know-how that they built up over the past 60 years and renewing yourself without forgetting where you came from or your basics. And in this case it are the small details that count, for example when my mom and I eat at the chocolate lounge I usually eat (before I attack the sweet stuff) a quiche Lorraine as they even make their own shortbread base which gives even a ‘simple’ dish like a quiche a total different dimension! It is also that same dedication of perfection that Del Rey puts into it chocolats, desserts, its famous macarons, wedding cakes, etc…

Bernard Proot

Jan Proot

If you want to try the Del Rey desserts, ice cream, etc… I suggest you come to Antwerp, go to the Del Rey Chocolate Lounge, order yourself a coffee Del Rey (which is basically a coffee that gets served with 2 home made chocolate, some cookies,  1 scoop of vanilla ice cream and some whipped cream (the real stuff)) and one of their desserts and I’m sure on your way out you’ll be walking out with a box of chocolates 🙂 because life with a box of chocolates is soooo much nicer!! I know I’ve been eating them at least 30 years 🙂

Sea you soon

P.S.: I had taken my own pictures to share on this post, but due to problems with the SD card from my camera I wasn’t able to retrieve them yet. Once I have them I’ll share them 🙂