We decided to have one more dinner before boarding a plane to Portugal where we’ll spend the majority of our well earned vacation. Restaurant Karel De Stoute was to my surprise not fully booked and after reading through the shorter reviews on trip advisor I didn’t wait to claim my table! There are only two (out of about 100) negative reviews. Someone complained about a toilet that didn’t properly work and another person complained about having to choose from a limited menu after arriving an hour late. To set things straight, the toilets are luxurious and worked just fine when we ate there and since we’re not in the biggest Rock band in the world we never arrive an hour late…
Anyway, when we arrived we could choose to eat inside or in the beautiful garden. It was a very warm day so we decided to eat outside. The garden is a very nice place to sit. Our table was under a large tree and they use indirect light to brighten it up. If you are planning a romantic dinner, you can’t fail with this restaurant.
The hostess and wife of chef Thomas De Muynck is very welcoming and she adjusts really well to diners. We like to keep things casual and while keeping it very professional she didn’t act too formal. The way she manages to keep a natural flow throughout the whole evening is a rare talent only a few people seem to possess.
After sitting down for only a few minutes we were given the menu. You can choose from either a 3, 4 or 5 course dinner with the option to switch out the suggested dessert for a selection of cheese. We went all in and ordered the 5 course menu with pre-selected wines. Since I’m no wine expert let me just say their wine selection is excellent. Every wine felt like it added that final touch of excellence.
We got a few very well executed amuses. Escargots with green curry, a small sample with chicken and tiramisu of foie gras. All amuses looked like art and tasted like they could be transformed into a whole course with only minor modifications. Really delicious! If you know someone who doesn’t like escargots because how it looks, just serve it like you see in the picture bellow… They will at least consider eating them.
Our first course was carpaccio of haddock served with fragments of watermelon, cucumber, miso and avocado and complemented by a mayonaise made with Jalopeno. This was a really refreshing dish, great for a summer evening. There where only about 10 other diners and upon tasting this dish, I could not understand why this place wasn’t fully booked.
It was impossible to ignore the talent of the chef at this point. Using Jalopeno, this could have been a failure if overused… I’m happy to say this wasn’t the case, there was real love between the ingredients and it seemed like even the Jalopeno found his inner peace. In one word, astonishing!
Next up, two variations of sardines (grilled and Tempura fried) with a sour/sweet tomato, olives, quinoa and sour cream. I looked forward to this dish because in Portugal you get sardines all the time so it felt like being there already. Mrs. Strawberry thought she didn’t like sardines. She changed her mind after taking one bite. Most chefs take pride in serving a plate where the main ingredient shines once.
If Thomas De Muynck is gonna make some sardines he’ll make sure you’ll notice… TWICE! He blew me away with both preparations making this one of my favourite dishes ever… It made me silent, it was quite simply poetry on a plate. Believe me, If I could pick some minor detail to complain about I would but I’m truly sorry, this paragraph ends here.
About 15 minutes after I totally disintegrated those sardines we got our next course: plaice with shrimps, peanuts, leek and cauliflower. I love all the ingredients so for me this couldn’t go wrong. Mrs. Strawberry hates shrimps like I hate tofu. She hates shrimp so much, I’m sure she would start an extinction level event to get rid of them if she could.
She brushed all the shrimps to the side of her plate but guess what… She really liked the dish as a whole. Even when the sauce at the bottom had that distinct shrimp flavour, she loved it. She said “I know this is how shrimps taste but the dish is so refined it doesn’t really matter”.
This is something that captures the essence of everything that this chef prepares. It might be just a mixture of simple ingredients, a piece of fish, some vegetables… The way they were combined into yet another masterpiece is spectacular. Even a simple peanut is used as a necessary part of the larger whole, that crispy final touch. Unforgettable!
After three fish courses we arrived at the meat dish. Loin of veal, thymus, mushrooms, onion and black garlic served with an amazing glass of red wine. Yes that’s right, this dream seemed endless. Every detail was taken care of. This chef is deeply passionate about the art of making marvellous, over the top delicious food.
If there’s an absolute center to how long meat veal should be baked, he discovered that point! He served the onion in three different ways, not one of them was less then absolutely mind boggling. Even if the dish sounds like something perfect for autumn and winter, food this good can be enjoy every single day of the year.
The only problem with this dish was a first world problem I had created myself… The veal was so amazing I made the mistake of eating it too fast resulting in having onion without meat. If anyone can say this was the only problem then they are truly blessed at that moment. Here’s a picture…
Keep in mind, the pictures where just taken with a mobile phone. Everything looks even better when it’s placed in front of you. The dessert consisted of rasberries, again prepared in several different ways there was also white chocolate, kaffir and rhubarb. What can I say that I haven’t said before… Not much I guess. I finished it in about 15 seconds and that had nothing to do with not getting enough food…
After dinner I had a cappuccino. Strawberry had fresh green tea. It came with some homemade cookies and chocolate. At this point you should start thinking about paying but they brought another small dessert (not on the menu) made from peach. Then came a few homemade deep-fried solid doughnuts and I wasn’t sure if I was still awake. The good stuff kept on coming turning a 5 course dinner into 8 courses.
This chef and his restaurant Karel De Stoute is a force to be reckoned with. It hasn’t got a michelin star (at the time of writing this review) and maybe there’s an explanation for that I’m sure I’ll never really understand or care about.
Let me finish by saying: it was the best dinner of my life. Mrs. Strawberry thanked me for the amazing dinner… When she talked to me after we left it really hit me, we walked in there as food critics but we walked out as two people deeply in love. Well done Karel de stoute… Well done…
2 Bottles of water: 10 EUR
2 Glasses of champagne: 24 EUR
2 Menu’s 5 Courses: 130 EUR
2 Assortment of wines: 60 EUR
1 Coffee & 1 Tea: 12 EUR
+ 3 Amuses: 0 EUR
+ 3 Complementary desserts: 0 EUR
Grand total: 236,00 EUR
What dreams are made of...Fall in love!
9000 Gent (Belgium)
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