Eating in Brussels classical style

Those who know me, know that I like food. I had always intended to keep a food log – but in its absence (do I hear a sigh of relief out there?) I will at least review some of the meals I’ve had. Being in Brussels means there’s lots of choice to eat and as usual on a RIMSAT review visit the happy team went out together. This time it was the ultra elegant L’Alban Chambon Restaurant that is part of the Hotel Metropole.

The high ceilinged room, morning-suited staff and huge and elegantly set out table should have been a clue or three: this is French/Belgian classical approach to food. Our printed RIMSAT menu promised four courses – with a choice in the middle. But first, a plate of three amuses: an anchovy curled on a tomato resting on a caviar sauce; a tiny quennelle of white crab meat (where did all the brown meat go?); and a perfect miniature tureen of tomato cream. Three big hits of taste and we hadn’t really started.

The fish course was a terrine of sea bass and baby leeks wrapped in more leeks, the whole resting on a jus of  vegetable/leek stock and fromage frais topped with more deep fried leek ribbons. It was delicate and served in a most generous, main course sized portion. Next choices: soupe de poissons de roch with croutons and rouille (mine) or gigantic trees of white asparagus with sauce mousseline. The soup was no petite tureen this time – a hungry person sized plateful. Getting full.

The main course meant the death of several small piglets – or conchon de lait as they are called here abouts. A fist sized loin complete with its crackling and a bed of courgettes. All accompanied by a little (relative word at this point) dish of haricots. The suckling pig was perfectly cooked, plainly delivered so that the meat’s taste could come through. I just managed ….

Then the pudding: a carpaccio of pineapple and roasted figs with a sorbet of limes. Knockout tastes. Defeated after half. I managed a few sips of chamomile tea. The others told me the coffee and sweeties were v good.

So another RIMSAT review survived, another exceptional dinner. (Don’t get the idea that all this European gallivanting is fun – only the meals relieve the grinding work. That’s my story.) This meal was proof for me that classic traditions, carefully updated can still deliver powerful food. Big tastes, big portions, big surroundings. Big result. Dominique Michou and his team deserve their toques.