Thursday, July 07, 2011

when in Bruges, Belgium-please desist from PATRICK DEVOS (7-1-11)

We had thought of hitting the Michelin-starred place in Bruges, but
when we discovered the menus started at 200 Euros, we decided to head
to the city's avant-garde uber chef PATRICK DEVOS
( just two blocks from our hotel.
The beautiful 15th century facade welcomes you into a narrow hall, and
I have to admit I felt odd as we passed the WC and there seemed to be
nobody around. Another couple was right in front of us and we all
ultimately emerged into a large art nouveau room which was quite
pretty. Another deco room adjoined this and a large serene garden was
our back. We decided to skip the garden for aperitifs as folks were
smoking up a storm out there. We chose the ALLIANCE menu which comes
in 5,6 or 8 courses and went for the full shebang with paired wines at
120Euros, we added a glass of house champagne to start which was
really a great start.
The first amuse came and while I seem to have lost the info on both
amuses, we recall clearly that they lacked flavor and invention
The first course of the menu was MACKEREL marinated in Olive Oil with
Saffron & Parsley Jelly with Green Herb Sauce, Roll of Celeriac and
Cucumber Mousse. The presentation was superb, so good I took a photo.
The jelly was flat and in a long rectangle in the middle of the huge
plate. The fish itself was tasty, but both of use had two extremely
tough pieces out of the three on the plate. It was a bit of a sloppy
mess. The wine was a Gruner Veltlinter ENTRE DEUX COUERS 2009 from
Muller-Grossmann in Kremstal Austria, and we got regular refills. So
for the wine, we were in heaven.
The next course was Local RIVER-EEL cooked sous-vide with Tarragon &
Chervil, Asapargus & Shitakes in a milky sauce which had a slightly
licorice taste (chervil foam?). Again the eel was TOUGH and I actually
almost lost a piece trying to cut it (it messed up Will's shirt with a
splash from across the table) and then it was loaded with bones. A
TOTAL DUD. The superb wine was another Gruner from the same winemaker,
this called GROSSER SATZ with lots of green apple hues and intense
mineral flavor. It's a shame they pair the wines so well and can't
seem to get the food right...and it was all VERY BLAND. The deep bowls
also caused you to lose your utensils in the sauce if you stopped
LOBSTER from Oosterschelde (nearby coast) with compote of Tomato &
Avocado, roll of Chard and Curry Sauce, a chemical powder and Olive
Oil of Lobster was next. There was some odd rice on the plate with no
taste at all and the lobster tail was broiled a bit too much and was
slighlty tough...nothing like the perfect ones the night before at Le
Chef et Moi. A RIESLING POINY 2008 from Hoch Emmerich in Austria was
again a delight.
We finally got some flavor with the Grilled MONKFISH and Mousse of
Three Peppers, Ices of Red Wine and Anchovies, Compote of Beans,
Olives & Apple Capers. The Compote was like a tapenade and quite
tasty, but the hit here was the ices which combined red wine and
anchovy falvors to perfection. The BLAUFRANKISCH CLASSIC 2008 from
Bauer Poltl kept the wines in the Austrian nation up to this point and
was a light red with flavor working well with the rich monkfish.
At this point, I yearned for a second piece of bread. We had three
choices at the start with some olive oil ( a disappointment after the
fab local salted butter) and I was told only the white rolls remained.
When I broke it open, it was so stale it splattered across the table
in crumbs.
The main course was a superb FRIED PIGEON with Crispy Pidgeon
Croquette in a divine sauce of MORELS, Puree of Peas, Vegetables(Snap
peas & Beans) with Lettuce, and Coulis of Young Onions and Parsley
with Rosti Potatoes. The red was a full bodied South African 2006
DORNIER Cabernet Sauvignon.
Will had stepped out to the WC at this point and giggled that he had
tried to get the fly in the urinal, but it was PAINTED ON! Oh well.
Dessert was a "Creme Brulee" really SPONGY CAKE with SPECULOOS (local
intense spices used for ice creams and desserts), Poached Rhubarb,
Rose Blossom Foam--it was nice but won no awards and the CUVEE AUSLESE
2009 from my favorite dessert winemaker in Austria (KRACHER) was too
young and quite acidic.
Mignardises came and we noshed on the Coconut macaroons, French style
macaroons, Cherries marinated in chocolate and mini chocolate ice
cream thing.
We left feeling that there were some nice courses, but somehow it took
forever to get to them and I wanted more for what I was paying. No
stars here.