Eau Vive

Eau Vive, 2 Michelin stars, is about an hour’s drive south of Brussels and sits halfway between Namur and Dinant. It’s partnered with a three-room mini hotel called Espace Medissey a few kilometres up the road, which is comfortable but very self-consciously designed with lots of stark, boxy, minimalist furniture, the better to set off the large collection of brightly coloured ceramic cows. Look, there’s one in the garden, welcoming us.

The walls of the room were studded with innumerable switches and controls for the various lighting combinations, including the adjustable coloured display in the bedhead.

Back at the restaurant we settled into our surprisingly comfortable chairs and chose the Discovery Menu. Before the menu started we received five amuse-bouches.

1. Crunchy balls. No, that’s not what the waitress called them, but I can’t actually remember what she called them.

2. A ball of foie gras covered in red wine mousse. Oh yes. And that’s my aperitif behind it, whose class and sophistication was marred slightly by the cheap plastic straw.

3. Pea soup with a bacon flavoured foam and a soft-boiled quail egg.

4. Oops. I’ve forgotten this one entirely. I’m sure it was nice, though.

5. Egg and seas urchin. But in a kind of smooth and creamy way, not hard and spiky.

With this we’d chosen the selection of wines, which started with the wonderfully named Abracadabra. No, they didn’t serve me four glasses of wine at once (however nicely I asked); this shot is from later in the meal. As you can see I only drank a modest amount of each, mindful of the fact that I had  to drive back to the hotel after the meal. The only slip in service was the fact that the wine which was supposed to accompany the soup didn’t arrive until we gently reminded the sommelier. And when it did arrive, it was by far the worst of the evening. Still, the others were very good.

The first proper course was langoustine in a roll of crunchy breadcrumbs with aubergine, soy sauce and a bowl containing  langoustine tartare with celeriac.

Pan-fried scallops with radish discs, beetroot cubes and foam, and strips of apple. lovely, although the scallops were so good I’d have happily eaten them unadorned. Nice plate too.

Mushroom, artichoke and chestnut soup with a finger of foie gras and a truffle butter soldier. Rich and velvety and yum.

And then the chef himself came out to give us some extra fresh grated truffle (it must have been the chief truffle grater’s day off).

Meat course: pigeon with cabbage and Jerusalem artichoke purée.

And so to my favourite course: cheese. Half the fun here is just seeing the whole range spread out in front of you.

Although that wasn’t the whole range as there was a side drawer he pulled out for the goat’s cheese.

I loved the textures of these two monsters: mimolette and stilton.

And here’s what I selected in the end. Clockwise from the top: Peket, Brique de Flandres, a goat’s cheese containing speculoos (worth trying for the novelty value, but a little dry), Pom ‘Calva, and Cochon’nez.

Dessert: chocolate cannelloni with bergamot and a green tea madeleine.

And some chocolatey nutty fruity goodness on the side.

AND a branded chocolate square for good measure.

On balance a very polished and enjoyable meal in a beautiful setting. Recommended.