We came we ate…we fell in love. Hertog Jan is a three michelin star restaurant run by chef Gert de Mangeleer and sommelier Joachim Boudens. Together with their awesome team they give you a dining experience like no other. Their motto is “Driven by simplicity” and you can already feel that when walking in. The restaurant used to be a farmhouse and through the open kitchen you can still see the old farm walls and high ceiling. The kitchen is ultra modern (yes, we got a tour) with a team of about 16 in the kitchen and 8 in the front of house, this being on a Wednesday evening when they did not have a full house. Of course if you want to reserve for a Saturday evening you’re going to be waiting a few months. But is it worth it? Yes. It is.
The dining area is big with lots of space between tables, something we enjoyed very much. We didn’t feel like cattle cramped into a tiny dining room. Instead of seating couples opposite each other they sit people next to each other at a big round table. Good move if you take into consideration the soft instrumental music in the background and very little background noise we could have a conversation without everyone in the room hearing it. My handbag got a little stool to lay on so you’re not awkwardly hanging it on your chair, kind of a funny sight though. Table decoration was simple but nice. A single tulip in a white vase and a candlestick. Everyone working there made you feel very welcome upon coming in and Joachim Boudens even came over to our table to personally greet us. We decided to try the “intense experience” menu at 195 euro pp (drinks not included). We also asked that the sommelier would choose the wine that best went with every dish.
First a waiter rolled out a champagne wheelbarrow (farmhouse concept) and explained all the options, there was a choice of about three champagnes. We decided on a rose which was fruity and refreshing. While we were drinking the waiters came out bringing amuses. And they kept on coming… about six delicious, well thought out perfectly balanced little taste bombs. Its amazing if you think about how hard it must be to get all that taste and texture into a bite sized amuse. Then came the appetisers in this order: eggplant with miso soup and beech mushrooms, black radish with king scallop and bone marrow? What the hell? It was delicious though. Probably one of the best dishes I ever ate. The tastes were so complimentary every bite you took your mouth went “wow I’m in heaven”...Then the turnip with smoked eel and bergamot, lobster with yellow beetroot and passionfruit and lastly young celeriac with black truffle, now this is a tricky one because it was purposefully charred black! You tasted this charcoal taste and even though it was nice and soft and sweet on the inside this dish was not particularly our taste. I do understand what they were trying to accomplish, combining the sweetness of a celeriac with the bitter taste of its charred skin but it was just a crazy taste we weren’t used to. I also have to mention that the level of service is so high that upon seeing that our plates weren’t finished and realising it wasn’t our thing the waiter came over and asked if they could make us something else!! I expected the service to be a lot snobbier and more arrogant, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Pleasing the customer is they’re number one priority and you can feel that.
The main dish was lamb with pepper, spicy sausage and anchovy. Again all that taste in every bite, the pepper was filled with a nice cream cheese to balance the very spicy sausage. Were the portions small? Yes. But believe me the work that gets put into making every single bite of food so flavourful and delicious is worth it this time. And we don’t say this often. Unless you haven’t eaten in days, you do not go home hungry, we definitely ate enough. What also has to be said is that Joachim Boudens does an absolutely spectacular job of choosing wines and sometimes surprises you with a beer if he decides that goes better with your dish.
Dessert was green tea, fermented rice and lichee. Loved this Japanese inspired desert. Fresh, flavourful, not too sweet. After dessert we got a choice of tea and coffee. We took the fresh herb tea, with herbs straight from the chef’s garden. Yum. We also got a choice of sweets from the “sweets wheelbarrow”. There were a lot of different sweets and freshly made cookies on there and just seeing the waiter coming out with his cart makes you jump up and down with excitement. So to sum things up this was an amazing culinary experience and we suggest you go there at least once, even if you have to save for it, it is worth it to get a taste of what one of the food masterminds comes up with. We decided we’d visit again when we get the chance. It really was a night to remember.
Intense experience: 195EUR pp
Total price: do you really want to know?
Let’s say you can eat at Hertog Jan at a price range between 250 EUR pp and 400 EUR pp
Gert, will you be our personal chef?Book your table!
8210 Zedelgem (Belgium)
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