Le Chalet de la Foret

Last night we drove a long and winding road through the deep dark woods south of Brussels to get to Le Chalet de la Foret (two Michelin stars). It’s housed in a rather imposing building, and the interior is a familiar mix of blinding white walls, spotlights, modern art and elegantly minimalist floral arrangements.

Inside we were given the choice of two tasting menus (or à la carte) by a short, well-groomed head waiter with a busy air about him, who kept fiddling with his wedding ring.

Having made our choice, we were presented with amuse-bouches of hare and mustard (the cubes) and little anchovy-flavoured cakes.

Next, charbon de mais aux truffes, which was crunchy on the outside and full of truffly cream on the inside. Yummy and fun. Next to it, a beautifully soft wild mushroom mousse.

The first proper course was a charlotte of crab and almond. The green swoosh didn’t taste of anything much, and I’m not entirely convinced by the almond flakes, but the crab was lovely, if a little chilly.

This, on the other hand, was fantastic. Lobster with barbecue sauce (no, really) and crunchy leaves. We asked the waiter what the leaves were and he said something which sounded like “chisseau“, but I haven’t been able to find in on Google (probably beacause I’m not sure how to spell it).

Turbot, enlivened by a meaty jus and some chopped celery. Not as exciting as the lobster, but still very edible.

The meat course: pigeon and butternut squash crumble. The circle in the middle is pigeon liver paté on toast, and the one at top right is half an apricot. The pigeon meat was quite pink but tender and very tasty.

An interesting pre-dessert. Banana sorbet with basmati and curry cream. My wife wasn’t impressed (she likes it hot, so maybe the “curry” was underwhelming), but I thought it worked very well. Plus, I love bananas.

Hot and cold chocolate. The mousse in the centre was hot, causing the thin square of chocolate on top to slowly melt over it, and the “soup” underneath was cold. The interplay of temperatures in the mouth reminded me of the hot and iced tea we’d had at The Fat Duck.

A fairly standard selection of mignardises, but the maccaron was interesting, as it had a caramel filling. Usually the filling is the same flavour as the cake.

On the whole a confident and stimulating meal. A lot of these places seem to reserve all their creativity for the starters, and when it comes to the main courses they’re happy to just give you a piece of meat, but the highlights in this case compensated and balanced things out, and I’d be happy to go back some day for another menu.

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9 thoughts on “Le Chalet de la Foret

  1. paola January 13, 2012 / 11:14 am

    Di, you called me just as the waiter was bringing us the first amouse-bouche 😉

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  2. Alan Hope January 13, 2012 / 1:09 pm

    I think those leaves are chiso or shiso, otherwise known as Perilla.

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  3. Erik R. January 13, 2012 / 4:02 pm

    I like the idea of a restaurant that goes all frou-frou experimental for the starters and then brings out a big slab of meat like Real People eat.

    Excellent photos as always, sir.

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    • simonlitton January 13, 2012 / 4:16 pm

      Ta. In fact quite a lot of restaurants seem to follow that pattern (with the exception of the aforementioned Fat Duck). Maybe they just think people are happy to try a few fancy little experiments before settling down to the serious business of meat mastication?

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  4. Alan Hope January 13, 2012 / 4:42 pm

    Question: is everyone okay about you taking pictures of every course, or is it something everyone else is doing, too? I don’t get to starred restaurants all that often, as you can tell. The last time I went to one, cameras were still too big to carry around.

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    • simonlitton January 13, 2012 / 4:52 pm

      I’ve never had anyone comment or object. I use a fairly compact camera, and if I forget to take it I sometimes just use my iPhone. I’ve seen other people do it, and I think the restaurants are quite used to it these days.
      Plus, I’m careful never to use a flash.

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