Hof Van Cleve

Calamar crudo sobre un puré con bouillabesa, caldo con wasabe y salicornia
Peter Goossens
Country: Belgium
City: B-9970 Kruishoutem
Address: Riemegemstraat, 1
(+32) 093835848
Closed: Sundays and mondays
Price: 200/325 €
Tasting menu:: 160/190 €

Peter Goossens, the most famous of Belgian chefs, is delighted with success he has had. He knows that he is now at the professional summit of cuisine and that much is expected of him. In keeping with his position, he continues to demonstrate a progressive spirit with his reflective and perfectionist style, giving light and splendor to his work. Nothing remains static; everything changes within a single philosophy, which we might define as great French cuisine seen through the eyes of a Belgian with a strong character, leaving his personal imprint along the way. Intelligent, cerebral, erudite, methodical, virtuosic… he mathematically projects his knowledge of refined, balanced flavors with silky contrasts, called upon to please the client who is considered the king of the restaurant here. The effort that encloses each dish and the seriousness that resolves each creation does not go unnoticed. The guest has no choice but to recognize the professionalism of the chef and his immense organizational capacity. And how can one not admire the hidden knowledge and the precision that is employed here, although his talent, boldness, imagination and crafmanshift make no surprise. A cuisine based on craftmanship, more than art. The menu changes frequently and is subject to the seasonal availability of ingredients as well as the mental fertility of the chef. The following is a description of one of the possible ideal menus. If hop shoots (jets de houblon) are in season (springtime) they cannot be missed – not only are they exceptional in themselves but also the preparation here only further magnifies their succulence. In our last visit we were offered two versions, with prawns and translucent slices of pancetta or with oysters and watercress, even more delicious. The fact that Peter uses his intelligence in every articulation is something that no one argues about. For example, the scallops – one of the most generous products here – is served in two preparations, hot and cold, with foie gras, truffles, salsifies and crustacean sauce. The Norway lobster is monumental: beautiful, radiating freshness and juices, whose greatness is seen reinforced by the presence of smoked eel (only fools might leave it), eggplant and curry – a symphony of sensations. The calamari is immense: served practically raw, boasting that particular texture and flavor that distinguishes them when they haven’t been overcooked, swimming in a satiating bouillabaisse (which serves to heat them) with seaweed, reinforcing and giving sapid complexity to this noble and modern “cauldron” of the third millennium. Once more, product with the finest arrogance: a beautiful turbot filet weighing four or five kilos lifted atop a bed of spinach and served with a penetrating béarnaise sauce enriched with lobster – a medallion, a few pieces and the crustacean juices… it warms the mouth with intensity and pepper. Another stellar moment came with the Pyrenees lamb filet, marvelously prepared, cooked in such a way as to allow one to perceive and taste the valor of the meat; it was served with a delightful juice made from the same animal, as well as a Jerusalem artichoke puree, small caramelized endives and a mixture of sweetbreads with wild mushrooms and horn of plenty mushrooms – almost nothing. The desserts confirm the wisdom and consistency of the owner. They are proofs of the refinement and balance of the house: orange with banana, tea, coconut and marshmallow and another dish consisting of passion fruit with bitter chocolate, lime, ginger and pineapple. The assortment of cheeses is rather memorable as well, the wine list offers anything your heart might desire and the service is superb. In short, a restaurant that goes in the line of the Michelin model.