review

Jardinière...not extraordinaire

© Saskia Vanderstichele
Onze score

After several popular terrasses, we thought it would be fun to try out one last summer lunch of the chic and extravagant variety. Sadly, La Jardinière du Wiltcher’s was a let-down.

Located at the bottom of Louizalaan/avenue Louise, the Steigenberger Wiltcher’s Hotel is an impressive fortress-like building. Since the start of May, the place has been creating quite a buzz with its pop-up project (which ends on 29 September), La Jardinière du Wiltcher’s.

The idea is to offer a fresh, vegetable-based lunch in the form of a large buffet. When we went there one Monday in mid-August, it was our first time making the pilgrimage to this citadel. Facing away from the city and perfectly protected from the sun, the terrasse is pleasant, the seats lined with thick cushions. Another thing the place has going for it, and certainly the most remarkable, is how thoughtful the staff are. They do everything they can to ensure you have the best time possible.

The formula is an all-you-can-eat buffet for €24 per person. If you want a dessert, you’ll have to spend €35 to choose from three sweet dishes. While we applaud the decision to provide a 100% plant-based selection, we have to admit we were disappointed by the dishes laid out on the counter. They had clearly hedged their bets by providing a wide variety…but there was nothing that really blew us away.

The green and white asparagus (which were not seasonal!), the cauliflower, the beans, the pretty mediocre olives, and the broccoli, they were all painfully uninspiring. It was a big disappointment for a foodie who had been dreaming of daring combinations and creations. The truth is that the buffet in question was everything we dislike about the format, in other words, one soulless dish after another, of the kind one might find in a holiday club. It’s not that they were bad, exactly. Some were even delicious, such as the vine leaves, which were beautifully stuffed, or the grilled aubergines with plenty of flavour.

That said, they were nothing to get excited about…or make you want to go back, knowing that it will cost you €24. Fortunately, having opted for the €35 deal, we were able to try the desserts. The tart combining shortbread biscuit, a layer of caramel, and little milk chocolate dômes provided some consolation. It was a genuine, properly executed culinary delight but, sadly, it wasn’t enough to make up for an underwhelming experience.

  • La Jardinière du Wiltcher's, Louizalaan 71 avenue Louise, Elsene/Ixelles, www.steigenberger.com > 29/9, ma/lu/Mo > vr/ve/Fr 12 > 15.00
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