I don’t quite remember how it happened, but I ended up on the mailing list for food blog Brussels Kitchen and a few weeks ago received notification of an event they were organising called eatcolor. The idea is simple: four innovative Belgian chefs, each given a colour and asked to create a menu using only that colour in a pop-up restaurant in a hotel in central Brussels. By the time we got round to booking only red was left. It would have been interesting to try white or orange (and maybe next time they could propose something more challenging like black or blue).
We arrived at Hotel Bloom and had been instructed to make our way to the food van parked in front.
Inside we were served a glass of bubbly. I jokingly complained that it wasn’t red (pink fizzy wine is pretty easy to find).
Here we also had our pleasant amuse-bouche of candied tomato, parma ham and a watermelon broth.
We waited on the pavement outside the hotel for about 40 minutes (regular wine refills helped pass the time) and then, once all the guests had arrived, we were led inside to a private room behind the hotel bar. We were seated at a long communal table in a dark room lit only by spots directed at the table. We got chatting to the couple seated next to us; a Belgian lawyer (but in fact he turned out to be a nice guy) and his wife, a Taiwanese graphic designer. We had a great time chatting to them throughout the evening, and comparing notes on restaurants in Belgium.
Here’s the menu. Interesting to note that they dedicate more space to describing the wine accompanying each dish than to the food itself.
Bread and butter.
Hmmm. The butter looks a bit strange, doesn’t it? That’s because it’s flavoured with paprika. I had to control myself and not eat too much of this for fear of spoiling my appetite.
And of course the bread was red inside too.
Here’s our first dish: bonito fish with tomato and radish. Light and fresh and very tasty.
For the next course the chef came and ladled out a serving of velvety soft (and cold) red beetroot “borscht”.
This was accompanied by a disc of bread with cured beef and goat’s cheese inside.
Our fish course was red mullet with red onion and surprisingly flavourful sumac leaves.
At this point the chef gave us a sneak preview of the next course: duck cooked in red tea.
And here’s the final dish.
At first I thought that the red discs might be chorizo, but on closer inspection suspected they may be some kind of gel, as they were too smooth and uniform to be a fatty sausage. But once I cut into them it became apparent that they were, in fact, a red species of potato.
And finally for dessert: raspberries and shiso ice cream.
At this point it was quite late and we were thinking of heading back, but one of the organisers assured us that there was a “surprise” with the coffee. This turned out to be small toffee apples. To be honest I was too full by that point to want to eat a whole apple, especially one covered in rock-hard sugar, but I took a few bites. And they were certainly pretty.
Verdict: the colour theme is essentially a gimmick, as many of the dishes verged towards pink or orange. On the other hand there were a few times when it forced the chef to use unusual variations on certain ingredients, and the food on the whole was of a very high standard (we’ve already booked a table at his restaurant for next month). Good food and good company made for a very enjoyable evening. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Brussels Kitchen events in the future.