J.E.F, Ghent

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Jef Interior

After hearing about this place from a couple of people we know, we decided to go check it out. It scores well on other food websites (although lately its getting mixed reviews) and seems to currently be one of the “popular” places in Ghent. Our expectations weren’t really high, we didn’t really know what to expect. The information on the website states: “j.e.f. where friendship, atmosphere, yummy and affordable food and a nice glass of wine are most important”. Sounds good, but then when you look at the menu the prices are on the higher side. Not a big deal if the food is going to be top-notch, of course.

Coming in you nearly walk into a disgusting kaki coloured curtain that hangs just before the entrance. The same curtains hang on the windows inside the dining room. Oh, by the way, Stalin called and said he wants his curtains back! These should be illegal in 2015. The rest of the room was also very simplistic, wooden tables that weren’t quiet finished (which made all the glasses wobble the whole evening), boring walls that looked a bit prehistoric and simple chairs. I understand that the concept of “simplicity” is alluring to people, but it can also turn ugly fast. This was more on the ugly side. It was also a bit cramped making the atmosphere not as cosy as promised.

Diner here is only à la carte, so we both chose different items from the menu. I started off with a glass of prosecco 8EUR and mr. Eggplant had a gin & tonic 16EUR. The server brought an amuse. Two pickled celery sticks (see picture above) with a yoghurt based dipping sauce. It tasted like…pickled stuff. I’ve had much better amuses in other restaurants, mr. Eggplant put his back down after one bite. The second amuse came from the menu and came with a price tag of 6EUR. I had grilled cucumber on a stick with a cucumber mayonnaise and a “fish crunch” and mr. Eggplant had a wheat crisp with an aubergine yoghurt dipping sauce.  

Mine was tasteless, the grilled cucumber didn’t even taste grilled and it was cold. The dipping sauce had zero flavour and the “fish crunch” might as well have just been bread crumbs, because it didn’t taste like fish at all. Mr. Eggplant wasn’t much better off because of the exact same reason- no flavour.

They don’t have wines that go with the dishes so we chose our wine ourselves, we ordered a glass with each dish ( 6,50EUR-7,50EUR per glass). The leftovers of our amuses stayed on the table for quiet a while, even after the starters were there. They asked if we wanted bread to eat the leftover mayonnaise and yoghurt out of the bowl. Yuck, just clear the table please.

As a starter I had the pigs cheek with cauliflower and Mr. Eggplant had shrimp with daikon and horseradish (20EUR). Mine was tasted like vinegar so was probably pickled again, it had the consistency of cat food and had a couple of slices of raw cauliflower. Disappointing and bland, I almost had to force myself to eat this. But after all, it costed us 19EUR so I did my best to eat as much as was humanly possible. Mr. Eggplant had a similar problem. No seasoning, no taste.

Although the dishes here look amazing and delicious, once you begin eating you realise that the presentation is the only good thing about eating here. Such a missed opportunity.

We were still hoping at this point that our main dishes would be really spectacular so maybe we would be enlightened as to why so many people choose to spend their money here. My main was a prime rib with asparagus (29EUR) and mr. Eggplant had catfish with “burnt shallot” and lemon balm. After getting a heap of asparagus and other green stuff out of the way (they obviously didn’t get the memo about making the main ingredient the most important one on the plate) I found my rib. Yes. One rib. One dry, overcooked, under seasoned rib with a bunch of tasteless greens and not even one potato. Our bad, of course, we should have ordered the potatoes as a side dish (7EUR), because obviously at j.e.f’s asking 29EUR for maybe the most tasteless pork rib of my life is considered normal. And again, following the trend I looked at Mr. Eggplants sad, disappointed face to see if he faired any better. Apparently not. He said he didn’t taste any of they things that were supposed to be giving this dish taste, instead he had a piece of un-seasoned fish, no sauce or anything.

After all this we were sad and still quiet hungry so as a last resort we ordered dessert thinking that maybe it would cheer us up a tiny bit (9EUR pp). We both ordered the same, ice cream with a lemon sauce, merengue and caramel. Considering how tasteless the other stuff was this was actually surprisingly good. Nice combination of flavours (yay, they can do it after all) although I didn’t find any caramel on my plate. Anyhow, this took our anger down a notch.

After dessert the server asked if it was alright, we said “yes” then he asked if we were definitely sure everything else was alright too. Really? Thats awkward, what are we supposed to say… “no, buy some salt and pepper and redo everything??”

Throughout this whole experience staff was quiet arrogant and not as friendly as might be expected at such a price range.  Also worth mentioning is that they have one bathroom with a toilet and a urinal right next to each other. But only one person can be pissing in the bathroom at any given moment so why do I, as a girl, have to pee with a urinal in my face? No answers.  Their concept is a total mystery to us, they want to be simple but expensive, they say that the dishes are made to be shared between the guests but besides the amuses you can’t share anything else… yeah, I’d like to know how you share one rib with multiple people.

To sum things up; we’re not coming here again, but we sure hope the rest of diners were more satisfied than we were. Oh, I thought we where finished… I just checked the bill and it seems they made a 20 EUR error. Good job!

1 Cappuccino: 3,50 EUR
1 Regular coffee: 3,50 EUR
1 Glass of Prosecco: 8 EUR
1 Glass of Prosecco we didn’t order and didn’t get: 8 EUR
1 Gin Belet + Tonic: 16 EUR
1 Gin Cockney that we didn’t order and didn’t get: 12 EUR
0,5l Water: 4 EUR
4 Glasses of wine: 25,50 EUR
1 Cucumber on sticks: 6 EUR
1 Wheat Crisp: 6 EUR
1 Portion of pickled pork cheeks: 19 EUR
1 Portion of shrimps gone wild: 20 EUR
1 Rib and a lot of tasteless vegetables: 29 EUR
1 Piece of unseasoned fish and a lot of green: 29 EUR
2 desserts: 18 EUR

Grand total with 20 EUR error; 209,50 EUR


Final Verdict

Stalin wants his curtains back!

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About the Author

Mrs. Strawberry

Born on a cold thursday near Berlin in 1989.

Lange Steenstr 10,
9000 Gent (Belgium)

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