review

'Tandem': dynamic duo

© Saskia Vanderstichele
Onze score

Tandem, which opened a little over two months ago, has a polished quality that makes it very appealing. That’s because Pierre Val and Pierre Schreuders have been dreaming about it for ten years.

Could friendship be the best fuel for a restaurant to run on? There is every reason to believe it in a place like Tandem. “Tandem”, the name says it all: it’s a venture that requires two pairs of hands, or rather two pairs of legs, with both pedalling in the same direction.

Pierre Val is known for his excellent wine bar Rubis in Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles. Pierre Schreuders is also no stranger to the Brussels scene, having worked in restaurants such as Sanzaru, Le Chalet de la Forêt, and the Sea Grill. The two met in one of the capital’s culinary hotspots, Inada Saburo’s restaurant. There, in the delirium that followed the dinner rush, the two Pierres would dream of opening their own restaurant.

Ten years later, they have done just that…and it’s a total success. From the moment we entered, we loved the place’s highly individual character, with its walls covered in a rather unusual shade of old-rose pink MDF panelling. The lines of the decor echo the shape of the legs of the zinc tables that line the space. The place is dominated by a large bright bar with three pretty lights hanging above it. Only the glazed and tinted tiles of the exterior remind us that the place was once a Portuguese tavern where people would come to eat bacalhau.

'Blown away by a fish we don't care for'

As for the food, the formula has changed completely. Now, the place serves meticulous dishes which demonstrate great culinary skill. We tried them out over a lunch for €25. It began with a beautifully made appetiser: creamy mushroom and chestnut soup with a real warmth and depth of flavour. Then came the starter. It was delicious, an œuf parfait (a slowly cooked egg) topped off with a hollandaise sauce and some finely chopped chives for freshness. This sumptuous dish also included an incredibly flavoursome slice of home-smoked salmon.

We were blown away by the main course. Bringing out the flavour of monkfish, a fish we don’t usually care for, with a hazelnut and macadamia nut pesto was a stroke of genius. All the more so as the dish was extremely pretty, served with lightly roasted carrots and winter purslane leaves.

It’s a pity that, due to it being lunchtime and too early to drink, we were unable to test the place’s main attraction, its food and wine pairings. However, having seen the bottles (Château de Bioul sparkling wines, Druida from the Dão, Alta Vinya from Collioure, etc.) and having witnessed Pierre Val’s expertise in action – one day, he recommended that we try a superb Collares, a Portuguese coastal wine – we have every confidence in him.

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