I celebrated my birthday this year in Brussels and therefore I had decided to treat my friend and myself to a six course dinner. La Bonne Chère offers a six course meal with an extra cheese course, if you are so inclined. We were inclined, and it might have been the one thing that was too much. But let’s start from the beginning of this wonderful meal. If I get anything wrong in the descriptions it stems from my poor French skills.
The restaurant is small and seats maybe twenty people or so. There is also a very small courtyard, which was not in use except for smoking on that evening.
We decided against the wine pairing and instead ordered a glass of beer. The menu started with the amuse gueule, which was a small cone with ham and homemade cornichons. The ham came in form of a mousse, all wrapped in a delicate cone. A very promising start to our meal.
The second amuse gueule consisted of three parts. An oyster with a champagne and kiwi granita, a small bowl of char tartar with charred corn and avocado mousse, as well as waffle with cheese mousse, made from around cheese from Brussels, and caviar. We were both thrilled and raving to the waiter about it, because it was so good.
Bread came in form of a small loaf for each of us. A nice, thick slice butter, olive oil, and salt and pepper accompanied it. The bread was delicious, truly. But I tried to pace myself with all the courses, which were still to come. I still had some left when the cheese course arrived.
Our first course was a tuna tartar, simply named skipjack, periwinkle, and fennel. The tuna tartar was cut into bite-size pieces, with some kind of jelly on top, and the fennel cubed besides the tuna. I liked the fish and the dressing of it. The jelly felt a bit glibbery, but added a refreshing aroma to the whole dish. The tuna and the fennel was an interesting pairing, something I never would have though of. But it worked!
Next up was mini artichoke with a quail egg inside. Artichoke mousse on top, which felt more like a sauce Hollandaise, cream of artichoke below with a lemony taste and juice of artichoke leaves made up the dish. The menu said something about walnuts, but I am not sure where they factored in. But honestly it didn’t matter, it was so, so good!
Next up was steamed drum fish with spring onions, turnips, in a very green sauce of spring onions and watercress. It was not our favorite course. The turnip was too bitter and peppery. While I still liked it okay, I was not convinced. The fish tasted of mackerel, very fatty but still juicy. We ate it all nonetheless, it wasn’t that much after all.
After that the heart, liver, and neck of a guinea fowl arrived in form of a paté with strawberries and pickled radish. We got one plate to share, so glad that I still had some bread. This was also yummy.
The main dish was the rest of the guinea fowl. The leg came stuffed with green asparagus, the breast stuffed with morels. Two white grilled asparagus with peas on top, grilled onions, and a jus completed this dish. It was not the greatest course, but good enough to finish it. I can’t really remember, why I wasn’t impressed, but I also don’t remember anything great about it.
Then we had the cheese course, starting with the goat cheese. It was quite an intense course. All cheeses were quite intense by taste and I couldn’t finish my half. I am sure it was excellent cheese, but by then I had too much to eat already and couldn’t care less.
Finally we were starting with the desserts. We got first a cheese cake made with goat and Hervé cheese and a rhubarb compote underneath. The cheese came in form of a mousse and was light and airy, but still had a distinct goaty taste. It did work well with the rhubarb though and I quite liked the goat cheese taste. Very interesting dessert and beautiful to look at.
Last but not least dessert arrived and I do not a picture of it. At least not one with the complete dessert. Fresh strawberries and a cream of verbena, topped with a butter cookie and a strawberry granita made from BBQ strawberries made up the dessert. Here you can see it after I destroyed it.
I am not sure how that happened, because usually that’s only an issue when I am really hungry. And that was definitely not the case anymore. The dessert was delicious though and full of flavor, slightly sour and sweet at the same time. Wonderful especially with the buttery cookie on top.
We ordered coffee and with it came a small variety of bite-sized cookies. There was just no end to the food, there was more coming. Of course we had to try each and everyone. Because maybe one would be awesome. The one with the pistachio cream was the least interesting, but the other two tasted quite nice.
Last but not least and this time for real, the waitress arrived with mini Madeleines, still warm and in the pan. They were absolutely fabulous!
We shared a bottle of wine with our meal, maybe a drink after would have helped more than coffee to digest. The food was lovely and I don’t want to miss one course. There were some amazing highlights in this menu. La Bonne Chère is definitely a restaurant for special occasions. I can’t imagine eating so much on a regular basis. Yours, Pollybert