review

All aboard at Barge!

© Saskia Vanderstichele
Onze score

Without a doubt, it’s the best news this month. Barge, a 100% unique place, has arrived to shake up the neighbourhood around the Ieperlaan/Boulevard d’Ypres. Things will never be the same again.

Barbara Hoornaert and Grégoire Gillard took a gamble and it has paid off. Having worked in respected establishments such as L’Air du Temps and Comme Chez Soi, the duo, who are barely in their thirties, have just set up shop in what is, gastronomically speaking, a deserted corner of Brussels, even though the imminent opening of KANAL – Centre Pompidou is a clear sign of the advancing gentrification of the neighbourhood sandwiched between Sint-Katelijne/Sainte-Catherine and IJzer/Yser.

In keeping with the unlikely location, the pair opted for an unusual decor. It’s a total success, featuring Granito, a large bar made of raw uneven concrete, and a ceiling with a textured effect that resembles a strange porous rock. They have created a space that is at once open, functional, and aesthetically dynamic.

When we paid it a visit one evening in August, we immediately loved the place’s wonderful fusion of relaxation and fine dining. Like it or not, the menu features a single set meal, with two versions available in the evenings: four courses for €44 or 5 courses for €55. We chose the shorter option and found it to be perfect. The meal started on a real high. The dish with tomatoes, shrimps, and tagetes, their take on the classic tomato-shrimp combination, was breathtaking. The cherry tomatoes, cut in half and filled with whole shrimps, in other words not shelled, but cooked in such a way that you could eat them as they were.

The recipe was elevated with a lacto-fermented jus. The resulting effect was that we felt we could taste the very essence of the surf and turf harmony, which was, moreover, crunchy for once. The veal tartare was also exceptional, from none other than Lothar Vilz, an excellent farm in the east of Belgium. Served with crystalline iceplant, a plant similar to samphire, the dish was like an explosion of freshness. The final savoury dish was some very tender pigeon with black olives and red onions. It was flawless, melting ever so softly on the tongue. The dessert was equally exquisite, combining cherry, shortbread biscuit, and peach leaves.

We ended the meal feeling cheerful and satisfied, but not weighed down. Our happiness was made complete by the wine recommendations (€24 for four glasses), a perfect selection of seasonally appropriate wines. An absolute delight.

  • Barge, Ieperlaan 33 boulevard d’Ypres, Brussel/Bruxelles, 02-425.73.60,
    www.bargerestaurant.be di/ma/Tu > za/sa/Sa, 12 > 14.00 & 19 > 21.00
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