De Karmeliet moved to its current premises in 1992, with the owner and head chef Geert van Hecke having previous worked under legendary chef Alain Chapel before he opened his first restaurant in Belgium in 1983. He won a Michelin star in 1985, and another in 1989, with the ultimate accolade of three Michelin stars coming in 1996, which it has retained since.
After passing through a modern entrance there is a lounge, and further back an attractive conservatory looking onto a garden. Here you can browse the menu and can have a drink. The dining rooms are upstairs, three rooms in a classical town-house style, with high ceilings and traditional Victorian-style décor. Amuse-bouche included a pea gelee, some red mullet and a little marinated salmon on some excellent cucumber (the nibbles were 18/20). Bread was rather ordinary (15/20), a choice of brown, white and seed rolls. However a starter of risotto with morels was perfect, the morels of the highest quality, the chicken stock superb (20/20). For the main course we shared white asparagus with fresh morels, arranged with a smooth creamy sabayon of potato inside a “fence” of asparagus with a few perfect shrimps, all in a chicken juice perfumed with nutmeg, with some basil oil and squid ink juices for decoration (19/20).
For dessert a chocolate soufflé was as perfect as it could be (20/20). Petit fours were stunning: rum baba topped with a single pistachio, a mini apple tart, truffles, a strawberry tart, all truly out of the top drawer. The cheese was superb, all in perfect condition e.g. a Munster, an aged Comte, some delightful goats cheeses and a soft blue – a rare treat - a 20/20 cheese board.
For lunch the following day a risotto of asparagus was also excellent. For my main course I had chicken with morels, six slices of chicken stuffed with truffle on a bed of peas and broad beans, with a single piece of asparagus. Again the cheese was stunning but the desserts and petit fours (same as last night) were again the best feature here. The coffee was also excellent. Service on both days was very good, but not faultless. The wine list was good, with Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon being a bargain. Generally the wine prices were less steep than London.
Further reviews: 21st Aug 2014