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True Belgian dinner experience with service improvement potential: Restaurant Stirwen (19. December 2016)

| February 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

From an overall perspective, dining at the Stirwen is something I can definitely recommend. However, there are a couple of things where the restaurant has room for improvement. I had booked a table just shortly before showing up and it was not a problem getting one (probably, the fact that it was a Monday evening helped). Once arriving to the restaurant you’re welcomed friendly, the waiter takes your coat and stores it and brings you to your table. When it comes to the table, there are definitely already quite large differences in terms of ‘how nice’ a table is. Some are truly atmospheric, others not so much.

I went for the “4 courses surprise menu” (EUR 60.00) with the respective “wine pairing” (EUR 30.00). Shortly after the order was placed, “bread and butter” were brought to the table and while the bread and butter were exquisite, I was not informed what kind of butter they had served.

Before the actual menu starts, there are quite a couple of amuse bouches which are served. The first one was a “mushroom soup” which was aromatic, mushroom-y but subtle in its notes.

The second course was “smoked eel with beetroot foam and goat cheese” and last but not least …

… “Iberian pork with celeriac puree and almonds” came as the last amuse bouche. They were all good so my expectations were set quite high already.

The first actual course of the ‘surprise menu’ were “thinly sliced scallops with oyster sauce, pickled radish, cucumber sorbet and white gin foam”. It did not only look very appealing but it was actually great in taste – the scallops were rich, and in combination with the pickled radish and its spiciness and the cucumber sorbet, it was an outstanding dish.

My favourite that evening was the “sea bass with artichoke cream, squid ink raviolo and mushrooms”. The fish was of an almost creamy consistency with an intense but not overwhelming mushroom sauce and an exquisite squid ink raviolo.

I was a bit skeptical about the “veal sirloin with veal sweet bread, veal stock, sweet onion tarte, morrels, pumpkin, cauliflower” but the meat was perfectly tender (although it did not look like at a first glance) and the stock added the necessary flavour to the dish. The sweetness of the onion tarte definitely pimped the dish, i.e. improved its flavours.

Although I am not a big fan of sweets and especially of chocolate, the “malheur au chocolate, vanilla ice cream, chocolate foam, and crumbles from Costa Rica” was exquisite. The ‘malheur’ was perfect as outside it was slightly hard but the inside was full of liquid chocolate, creamy, sticky, but light and foamy. Outstanding!

As a final greeting from the kitchen, some friandises were served: “rosemary financière, raspberry jelly, hazelnut chocolate cake”. The friandises were a good match to the “double espresso” (EUR 6.00).

What you get in terms of dishes is absolutely good, nothing to complain here. The element of ‘actual surprise’ in terms of flavour combinations and the like is a bit missing but the combination are well thought through and actually good.

However, there are a couple of things where I think the restaurant could improve. The first being the atmosphere. It is too bright – you feel not like in a comfortable high-class restaurant but more like in a waiting hall – way too bright. The atmosphere other than that is okay but the feeling of ‘relaxation’ doesn’t really come up.

Secondly, the waiters do a good job – they are generally attentive (i.e. asking in the beginning in which language you want the menu (French, Dutch, or English). However, when it comes to ‘perfection’ there is some way to goo. The water glasses aren’t refilled in time, i.e. you have to sometimes ask the waiter to refill the glasses (0,5l water, EUR 4.00). The timing of the wine pairing is not always optimal (i.e. the wine is sometimes only served after the dishes are already on your table), and last but not least, in the beginning when the three amuse bouche were served, you are having all three empty dishes (and they are not served at the same time) in front of you, and after the second amuse bouche, you do not get new cutlery. Not a biggie, but I would expect a restaurant cooking and serving on that level to be able to do that properly too.

However, all in all, the Stirwen is definitely a great bargain as the prices are absolutely fair, the place is okay, and the service is generally fine too. Overall, definitely a ‘can do’ – booking probably advisable as soon as you’re not dining on a Monday evening.


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Contact Details:

Restaurant Stirwen

Chaussée Saint-Pierre 15-17

1040 Brussels (BE)

Tel.: +32 2 640 85 41

Fax: +32 2 648 43 08

E-Mail: info@stirwen.be

Homepage: http://www.stirwen.be

About the Author:

I started the blog in October 2009, while living in Milan which I definitely consider to be one of the food capitals of the world. I was in touch with food since my early childhood (as my father is a former chef). Whenever I can, I travel the world to discover new places, to meet people but mostly to try local dishes and to find hidden gems! If you know a place worth going, please drop a line to: info@thediningexperience.org. Currently, I am a member of the following food-related associations: Chevalier @Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Zurich-Ville; Membre Gourmet Dégustateur @Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs [OMGD]; Gesellschafter @Goldener Fisch and Member @Slowfood Convivium Zurich City.
EUR 195.00 (incl. tip) Filed in: Brussels (BE), Restaurants

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