We had never visited a michelin 3-star restaurant before, not even a 2-star place. So when we went to De Karmeliet, it was a whole new experience. We really appreciate the work of the chef Geert Van Hecke. He has a humble way of being and we find him to be unique in his classic style, far away from all other starchefs who need to be very ‘rock and roll’. He still has something pure, common to his roots in west-flanders, in just doing what he knows best and not make to much fuzz about it. So on a wednesday night we entered his restaurant De Karmeliet. We we’re received in style and escorted to our table. We did expect to have the aperitif to be served in the salon though. Once at the table, the gentlemen got the menucard with prices, the ladies without indicated prices, an old habit in restaurant serving.
The interior of the restaurant is very classic with a lot of more modern artwork on the walls. From the outside the old mansion has a grandeur to it that you also find once you’re inside. The atmosphere suits the star quality.
They have several menu’s on the card. Because the menu “Brugge die scone” crosses a psychological border (€210 without wines) we chose the spring menu (€195 euro with wines), with addition of the suggestion of the moment, roots of hop with a sabayon of white beer and a poached egg. A half wine-arrangement wasn’t possible, so who wants to have the full menu here should best spent the night in the city… The wines were presented in a not so passionate way by the sommelier.
As aperitif we had a glass of house champagne in classic style and in rosé version. The tempo of the whole service was pretty tight. The different courses followed each other rather quick. Waiters came to the table with the plates on a big silver platter. To go with the aperitif we got home made chips, a mousse of shellfish and eel. Meanwhile the lady of the house came to the table to welcome us, which was nice.
The dishes were amazing, no comment what so ever on what was served. All using top ingredients and a preparation which was exceptional. We had a marinated mackerel as a starter, followed by a personal favorite, the langoustine served with marinated eggplant in a stock of soya. This was amazing and a really unbelievable taste experience.
The main course was a risotto with morilles and old parmesan was heavenly, the quail perfectly done rosé. And then it was already time for desserts; they served two plates, one with a fruit and one with chocolate. Nice!
With the coffee/tea, the served some more homemade candy, cookies and pralines. By then we were pretty full.
And than we got the bill. We each paid €265 euro (per person), from aperitif until coffee. Three hours later we were already outside, so it all passed really quickly… We would have enjoyed it even more if the timing was a bit more loose. Visiting a 3-star restaurant means that you pay about €100 euro more per person than in a 1-star restaurant. Is it worth it?
The service was very formal and distant and sometimes even nervous. There was one lady that also waited on the table, she was the only one that had a more warm and generous touch.
Nevertheless, we think it was worth it, for once. We are very grateful to have experienced the food that Geert Van Hecke maid. He really is an icon. We hope he can stay with us for a long time.