There is a number of restaurants you shouldn’t miss. SAN Sablon was kind of in the back of my head, as a restaurant I could visit one day but not as one that is a must-do, such as La Buvette (which I would always keep on my to-do list) or Humphrey (this I would cross from it). Not seeing SAN Sablon as a must-must-must-go is definitely a mistake, because you’ll miss out on something culinary impressing and beautiful.
The concept of the food is a very unique one: you spoon it! All dishes come in a bowl and you eat with a wooden spoon. It might sound strange, but the textures and ingredients allow for this, without making you feel as if you’re eating baby food.
The owner of the place, San Hoong Degeimbre, is spending his working time at the 1-star restaurant L’Air du Temps (which now moved onto my to-do list as well), but is involved in all menu decisions made by chef Toshiro at SAN Sablon. Also, the menu changes every month, according to season and products available.
The light green walls, golden details, very beautiful wooden tables that remind of tree trunks, ornate and subtle details and beautiful pottery kept mostly in pastel and earth tones made us feel like a character in Alice in Wonderland. When we arrived at 19.30h the place was still a bit empty, but filled up quickly with people of all ages, families, friends and people on dates.
You can either order a set menu for 65E or order a la carte, but I advise you to opt for the menu as it is a collection of dishes thought through in details, ingredients carefully picked and matched and there’s not too much time in-between the different dishes. A deconstructed sushi was presented as an amouse bouche, followed by four kinds of different tuna; a ravioli filled with tuna and some incredible other aromatic ingredients such as shiso and yuzu bathing in a bouillon of seaweed and tea couldn’t have been softer. Along with it came a tuna “blood sausage” with apple, sounding worse than it was – a raw tuna paste made from all the dark parts of the fish, avoiding any unnecessary food waste. The other two kinds of tuna were carpaccio with yuzu and a piece of sashimi tuna with salt and powdered sea weed.
The starter was followed by a dish that impressed me least but was still very good: Galician pulpo, green olives, ink mousse and grilled peppers. Now the two highlights of the evening were served. First, a risotto with white asparagus served with a slightly salty – in the good way – morel foam, crispy chicken brittle and Comte cheese. The saltiness of this dish was on point, fitting perfectly with the fresh and sweet-ish taste of the asparagus, not speaking of the textures mixed here: amazing!
Highlight number two was very tender veal cooked on low-temperature, served with pickled carrots, passion fruit, carrot puree, finished off with a crispy coffee, hazelnut and walnut crumble.
And while I was thinking it can’t get better, the dessert arrived. Salsify. Yes, indeed. I only use salsify for salty dishes, but at SAN Sablon it was caramelised with fresh vanilla, served with a white chocolate ganache, gingerbread “brulee” with cassonade sugar and caramel. I really felt like in the Alice in Wonderland movie, or something close to heaven.
This place is very unique. You get haute cuisine for a reasonable price with dishes that all match and are well-thought through, reminding me a lot of some of the mind-blowing dining experiences I had in Cape Town. The service is very nice and attentive and I love that the kitchen is open and there are even seats at the bar, so you can follow all the complicated steps that precede the wonderful dishes you’ll have in front of you.
Good to know:
- 5 course menu for 65E, excluding drinks