Bruneau

Bruneau is something of an institution in Brussels. Formerly holder of three Michelin stars, downgraded a few years ago to two, rumours have been flying around recently that it was due to close at the end of the year as Mr. Bruneau himself wanted to retire, and some said that the owners of Bon Bon were lined up to take it over. The Bruneau website strenuously denies these reports, but we booked a table before Christmas just in case. Again, lighting wasn’t optimal, which accounts of the unsightly yellow cast I was only able to slightly reduce in Photoshop (yes, Jag, I’ll get around to learning Picnik sometime soon, I promise).

Before we had chosen our menu we were served a glass of Moet et Chandon and a couple of diddy parmesan-flavoured waffles. These set the tone for the evening, which could be described as “Classic Belgian Cuisine…with a twist”.

Our set of three amuse-bouches followed this theme. On the left, a mussel in a (very faintly) curry-flavoured gratin. In the middle, a crusty ball containing a sauce of crevettes grises, and on the right a foie gras mousse. The ball was the tastiest and most fun to eat, I’d say.

Then came probably the most visually appealing dish of the evening: a swirl of lobster, black truffle, tomato and green beans. Very light, delicate flavours and pleasing textures, and the parmesan shavings added just the right amount of saltiness.

The next fish course was scallops with a minced langoustine filing and a creamy sauce. In fact several of the dishes had a classical French style creamy sauce, and yet it was never heavy or cloying.

The soup initially looked uninspiring, and yet this creamy vellouté of artichokes and truffles was wonderfully satisfying.

Then the meat arrived: deer with mushrooms, endive and a marinated pear. Meltingly tender, and the pear was a nice touch.

Finally, dessert. My wife actually couldn’t finish hers as she found the combination of flavours unappetising: banana crumble covered in green tea cream and chocolate ice cream. Not entirely successful, I had to agree -not enough banana, and the “crumble” was slightly chewy.

On the whole a pleasant evening, though. Although I usually find myself drawn to more innovative, deliberately “weird” dishes, it’s nice to settle into something more traditional and comforting every now and then, especially on a cool, dark winter evening.