So, it’s the end of another epic 3* restaurant…Hertog Jan, better known as HJ, near Bruges (B) closed its doors yesterday…or not?
Indeed, every end is a new beginning and HJ will rise again, like a Phoenix from the flames, adapted to what fine dining seems to become more and more, conceptual in some cases, downscaled and more focussed on an intimate, high end experience in others…like here…
Gert and Joachim have had the perfect journey, from the simple, cosy restaurant with traditional dishes on the menu, they have lifted their restaurant to the highest level, with years and years of hard work and dedication. The ultimate reward being the 3* and the move to their new restaurant in Zedelgem, just outside of Bruges, becoming a worldwide culinary reference when it comes to fine dining.
Gert became an authority in the 3* world, especially in Japan, and foodies from all over the world made their way to the beautiful farmrestaurant in Zedelgem….
The last time I saw these two best friends at work, they delivered a totally brilliant performance, serving genuine 3* food to over 500 guests at a dinner hosted by Michelin in Ghent….worldclass these boys, no doubt about it.
Gert and Joachim, a big thank you for what has been…and so looking forward to what will be…your stars will never fade… Proud of what you have achieved and of how you contributed to the reputation of Belgian gastronomy and Bruges.
« I believe in the team, the team is what I protect, not the individual. In fact, I think that they are giving a little too much voice to chefs. Shut up and work…It is a formula that has always worked very well for me.” Albert Adrià, Chef’s Table, season 5… Wise words…what do you guys think about super star status for the chefs? Can it be the start of the end of the creative process when chefs become rockstars, travelling from one award ceremony to the other…going to media events inbetween?
Dear friends, I have always feared the prospect of travelling to Venice, Italy, because of horror stories of tourist traps charging ridiculous amounts of money for average food and bad wines. So, to my great surprise, I had a fantastic experience there last week… possibly THE greatest experience so far in Italy. Valentino on the Lido island was fab for traditional, simple Italian with a wine list that blew me away…including beautiful, older Barolo’s….and at super cheap prices (for the wines we had) Dinner at Belmond Hotel Cipriani was excellent, easily exceeding their current 1* status… Do you have similar experiences with other places where you feared bad quality and ridiculous prices but where you had pleasant surprises?
Absolutely amazing meal in the best company, warm welcome, great staff and a fabulous, generous chef… What more can one wish for?
Cooking becomes art in this restaurant inside a castle near the German-Luxembourgish border. Only the best produce is used to create stunning dishes with beautiful, complex flavors. Without doubt one of Europe’s finest.
Sanghoon Degeimbre and his team never cease to amaze. Ever since they moved to the beautiful countryside location in Liernu, somewhere between Brussels and Namur, they have grown and evolved to become one of Belgiums finest restaurants, if not THE finest.
The restaurant has undergone a thorough refurb, putting all the attention on the beautiful garden…rightfully so BTW as the vast majority of the produce used in the kitchen is grown here. Through the large glass windows you look out onto thousands of flowers, herbs, plants and fruits…patiently picked, preserved, dried and prepared by passionate gardeners and cooks. The restaurants sound system plays back sounds recorded in the garden…totally wicked.
I didn’t think it was possible after over ten delightful visits in 2017 but cooking has yet again hit a higher level…world class level. Indeed, never before was the balance in every dish so perfect, the flavor complexity so spot on… The tasting menu is like a perfectly executed symphonic masterpiece…breathtaking, moving, unforgettable.
This restaurant does something to you…it takes you on a journey…it tells a story, about food, about terroir, about harmony between man and nature… Please, take me back!
1. The current location is no longer for sale, the negotiations came to an end. Instead, the building and gardens will be used as a high end event location for corporate events, weddings, babyshowers etc….
2. L.E.S.S. Their second restaurant is due to move from its current location (the first HJ location) to the center of Bruges, and later on a second one will be opened in Ghent, including a bakery and wine shop…
3. The current L.E.S.S. Location will be the home of a new concept, high end traditional (Flemish) cooking…
Very exciting times ahead for Gert and Joachim!
Belgian newspaper article
No great restaurant without great staff… Just over a week ago I took this picture in an almost deserted Ritz in #London In the background you can see the staff of the fine dining restaurant hard at work after a busy evening service, to get the tables set up for breakfast the next morning. This picture is a tribute to all the men and women in the hotel and restaurant business who go the extra mile day after day to make our experience as their guests truly unique. #thankyou