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 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!
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 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!
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
The dishes to follow were on the spot made ‘steak tartare’ (that was simply exquisite!!) and Mediterranean 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 🙂 .
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.
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 😉 😉
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
Address: Paradeplein 1, 2000 Antwerp – Belgium
It took me a long time but I finally found my way to The Jane. For most people it is the name Sergio Herman (owner) that makes them go, for me the trigger was Gianluca Di Taranto aka The Jane’s sommelier!! He doesn’t believe me when I say it, but it is true (he was also the trigger bringing me to‘t Zilte a few years ago when he used to work there). It was not the long waiting time for a free table (about 3 months) that made me wait so long, but rather the hype around The Jane. I had already been lots of times to Pure C (Sergio’s other restaurant), so I knew the food would be great… I just had experiences in the past with restaurants being hyped so much, but when you actually went it didn’t meet up with the high expectation/idolization and the fuzz made around it (Dinner by Heston for me is one of those, that’s why I didn’t write anything about it). So I basically was a bit afraid I would be the same with The Jane. The second trigger (and in the end decisive trigger) was the fact that my wife told me out of the blue she wanted to go there 🙂 🙂 I was so surprised as she never comes up with stuff like this, usually it is me pushing restaurants 🙂 Strike while the iron is still hot was first thing that came in mind. The gods must have agreed with me, as the still had some free spots for the day we wanted to go… In the upper room bar that is, not in the actually restaurant. The big difference between both (in same building) is that in the ‘restaurant’ you sit at the table and it is executive chef Nick Bril (and Sergio Herman himself) prepares your meal. In the Upper bar room you sit a big bar and see the cooks prepare your meal right in front of you (you might call it show cooking 🙂 ). The upper room bar is also a good way to get familiarized with The Jane’s food style, but than in tapas style.
I cannot get around it, I must mention the building The Jane is situated in as it is so special! The Jane’s first ‘project’ name when Sergio Herman started was “La Chapelle”, maybe this already reveals where I’m going? The Jane is located in an old church that has been totally redone and is a true architectural masterpiece!! The pictures below will give you an idea, but seeing it ‘live’ is even more impressive. I love the high ceilings.
I won’t lie about it, once I made the reservation I was as excited as a puppy to go to The Jane (that’s how I become when I can try a new restaurant). I only had to be patient for 2 weeks between the reservation and the lunch itself. Which in The Jane terms is not long as sometimes it can take you months to find a free spot…
I cannot use another word that describes it better, ‘Perfection’. From the moment you walk in until the moment you walk out you get pampered by every single member of the staff you see during your meal. I know you might say this is normal as you pay for it… I agree, but you would be surprised how many places ask the same or more, but give less, or where the staff doesn’t feel like working and don’t give the same welcome feeling. The advantage of the upper room bar is that you can make your own menu or better choose your ‘tapas’ à la carte (between 5 and 20 EUR). So you don’t need to go for the tasting menu (basically a walk through the à la carte menu) if you don’t want to…. It was also our initial plan as after our lunch we still had to go to a wedding (you cannot go to a wedding hungry, can you?) . BUT the meat is weak and we took the tasting menu 🙂 :-). As Gianluca had told his colleagues from the Upper bar room we had to go to a wedding… so they speeded up things for us… luckily we aren’t rookies anymore and we (yes my wife also, I thought her well :-)) can handle some food.
In the end I’m also glad I took the tasting menu as you get to eat things you maybe wouldn’t have picked yourself due to some ingredients in it…like the chickenliver’s with black pudding for example is something that would scare lots, but in fact it was one of the best dishes ever, and this was only the 1st dish we got 🙂 :-). Also remarkable that the oyster didn’t make me sick. I like its taste, but in the past every time I had an oyster (also in very good restaurants) I was as sick as a dog afterwards… My favorites were the chickenlivers with black pudding, the noodles, the lam stew, the sashimi, the buckwheat noodles with lacked duck, the steamed buns with pork belly … basically every dish was full of deep flavors and had all elements in a dish you would want there to be and therefore had one or the other reason to love the dish… ok maybe the oyster wasn’t my preferred one, but again it didn’t make me sick for a change :-). FYI, I didn’t take a picture from all my dishes as I ate some to quick and only realized afterwards I didn’t take a picture 🙂 (I know I’m using this sentence a lot, but I think I’m getting more greedy by the year I get older 🙂 )
It is also said a meal is only finished perfect if you get a good dessert, I can only say it was a fucking perfect ending of our lunch 🙂 my wife and I were supposed to share our desserts, but the plats were empty before we remembered we were going to share 🙂 🙂 but I was told the Raspberry with pistachio and chocolate tasted heavenly 😉
It was nice to be served cocktails, different types of sake or vermouths during my meal… Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer a good wine pairing with my food (It might also be because of the sommelier 😉 )… I liked every drink, but for me the drinks were a bit too strong to keep up the whole meal, especially knowing after this lunch I still had to go to a wedding :-). There just has to be a next time to try it all again without having some event afterwards and I think in the evening would be a better plan 🙂
It became a very long blog post and lots of smiley’s again, but you know that only means I’m very excited. I also got proven wrong, sometimes the fuzz and hype is just because they are just that good!!! Thank you Sergio, Nick and their The Jane team for the great (quick) lunch. So next time I won’t only come for the sommelier or because my wife wants to, but also for the fantastic food and to get Sergio Hermanized in the way it is supposed to happen (with more time)… even if that means I have to make a reservation at 8 a.m. …my 5 month old daughter will for sure help me to be awake in time 😉 :-)) like she did at 5 a.m. today to make sure I would have time to write this blog post 🙂
Restaurant The Jane
Address: Site ‘t Groen Kwartier, Paradeplein 1, 2018 Antwerp – Belgium