'Café Tulipant': say it with flowers

© Saskia Vanderstichele

At a time when Fernand Cocqplein/Place Fernand Cocq resembles a minefield, one piece of good news has emerged from the trenches: Café Tulipant. A beautiful place with plenty of spirit.

Even if it’s for a good reason, it hurts to see Fernand Cocqplein/Place Fernand Cocq so torn up. It looks like a gaping wound. In order to forget that painful gash, we will focus on the recently opened Café Tulipant, a new establishment that has lifted our spirits. It is brought to us by a team that has already made a name for itself with such popular successes as Le Bar du Marché and Café Luxembourg. For this new venture, the associates have not taken the easy road and we applaud them for it. The decor is a total success. It’s a vast, rather unfinished space with a gorgeous wooden bench in the centre. The place is bright and breathable.

In a nice touch, like in the work of the (an)architect Gordon Matta-Clark, the former signs of habitation can be glimpsed on the walls. The very pretty green wallpaper, the colour of which has faded over time, gives the place character. We also love the large dimpled mirrors on the ceiling, the huge counter made of stone aggregate, and the tastefully chosen light fixtures, not to mention the chequered white and green floor and, even though they’re from a furniture catalogue, the little round wooden tables.

But what impressed us the most was their decision to offer decent food…something that most bars these days don’t bother to attempt, and which inevitably sends overheads shooting up. Here, two tattooed chefs busy themselves in the kitchen. You can see them from the dining area. The duo do good work, such as the excellent semi-cooked salmon Maki (€14.50). Pleasing to the eye, it consisted of a slice of fish cut in two and wrapped in nori seaweed. It was served with a colourful risotto with beetroot, mushrooms, and grapefruit. It was a delightfully fresh and inventive dish.

It’s also worth noting that they have events every day of the week: DJ sets, guest mixologists, food and wine pairing events, complimentary croquettes when you purchase a bottle of wine on Wednesdays, etc. We have just one complaint: the choice of beers is far too “brewery contract” for our taste. We would like something from a barrel other than the omnipresent Jupiler, Ginette, Hoegaarden, and various Goose Island beers. We trust that the owners will expand the range of barley- and hop-related possibilities.

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