After declaring bankruptcy, the legendary nearly century-old Brussels restaurant La Taverne du Passage rises from the ashes.
It is somewhere you can go to absorb a Brussels that does not really exist anymore. Enjoy your meal while watching a world that is disappearing. Casting an eye around confirms this: a lot of grey hair, and a lot of men too. Should we turn our backs on the place for that? We don't think so. Not least because the place has taken a chance on some young talent. Antoine Mariscal, the new chef, is not yet thirty. A youngster revisiting Belgium's culinary heritage is something worth checking out.
The art deco interior is immediately striking, with its benches, checkered tiles, and white tablecloths. On the ceiling, a gold version of one of Charles Kaisin's famous origami pieces makes the restaurant resonate with the surrounding shopping arcade. From the moment you walk in, the service is fantastic. Despite the huge number of covers, the staff are very friendly.
The menu, unsurprisingly, includes classics such as shrimp croquettes (€18), filet américain (steak tartare, €21), and sole meunière (€30), but it also features dishes that are more in keeping with current trends, such as cauliflower steak with sesame seeds (€18) and octopus carpaccio with citrus fruit (€18).
We chose to keep with tradition. The shrimp croquettes were a superb starter. The texture was delightful, pleasantly crunchy thanks to an interesting mix of panko and other breadcrumbs. The saltiness of the shrimp was complemented by the addition of a small amount of bisque. A perfect balance of flavours. As a main course, we opted for a vol-au-vent (€28). In a bold move that not everyone will like but which blew us away, the puff pastry crust was reduced to a minimum, so that the dish, which combined creamy béchamel sauce and delicious sweetbreads, was not too filling. We also loved the chips, which took the form “matchstick fries”. They were served with the skins left on as proof that they were authentically “homemade”. The only disappointment was the wine list, which did not live up to our expectations, so we just stuck with Orval (€7).
LA TAVERNE DU PASSAGE
Koninginnegalerij 30 Galerie de la Reine, Brussel/Bruxelles, 02-512.14.13, latavernedupassage.be
ma/lu/Mo > zo/di/Su 11.30 > 23.00