‘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.
Good to know:
Address: Chaussee d’Alsemberg 108, 1060 St Gilles
Prices: 49€ for 6 courses, 64€ for 9 courses, and absolutely worth it