Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Archive for the ‘Far and away’ Category

Bite Me in Rome

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 3, 2012

Rachelinbxl has been quiet of late – lots of travelling and not much time to test restaurants in Brussels. Have mainly eaten in old favourites with visiting friends. So, I decided to add a restaurant from Rome. Bite Me does this sometimes on our travels, but this is my first posting from abroad. I’ll spare you the delights of Indian cuisine that I sampled on a recent trip and stick to something you might get to try.

We discovered, quite by accident, in the back streets of Rome, a Mozzarella bar. Intrigued by what this could mean we scrutinised the menu while it was closed and decided to come back when it was open. You can try various types of this AOC cheese (i.e. it must be made in a certain place).
I like mozzarella – on pizza, or in a salad with tomato and basil – but it doesn’t have a strong taste. Of course, we get the not-so-good stuff. Here, at the bar, one can choose from the milky white balls, each in separate tanks – like selecting a fish or a lobster in a seafood restaurant! They list the options as:
Paestum (delicate taste)
Pontina (strong taste)
Affumicata (naturally smoked)
Burrata (deliciously creamy)
If you want a tasting menu you can have two. We went for Pontina and Affumicata. We chose to have freshly made focaccia with it rather than a simple bread basket. Also known as pizza bianca, this was the best focaccia I have ever tasted – with rosemary and flakes of sea salt in its crisp, thin layers. Not spongy and thick like focaccia in Belgium!
The waiter was a little bit useless – forgot what we ordered to drink and got very confused, but he could at least advise us to start with the Pontina and then try the smoked. They come on a bed of young spinach and cherry tomatoes with a few (rather poor) black olives – but I wouldn’t call this a salad! The dish was easily enough for 2 to share however, as the cheese is very filling.

Focaccia (pizza bianca) and Mozzarella


I loved the pontina. So much flavour in such a fresh cheese! It was so good we didn’t try the olive oil or balsamic vinegar available on the table. Once we did, we couldn’t stop with those either. The quality is totally different, superior even to most of the olive oils I have had in Italy.
The smoked was totally different – overpowering and more sickly. I was glad I only had to eat half. I also enjoyed it, but half was enough. My friend preferred this one…
We didn’t have space for dessert and at lunchtime on such a hot day we didn’t sample their excellent selection of Italian wines. I looked up where the one in London is, for my next trip ‘home’. I intend to buy a bottle of that excellent olive oil, when I don’t have Ryanair hand luggage restrictions holding me back!

Obika has branches in Italy, New York, Tokyo, Istanbul but also now in London and soon – who knows where!
Obika, Rome
Food: A
Atmosphere: B (street bar in Rome – can’t guarantee they are all the same)
Service: B
Price: B (pricey for cheese and bread)
Languages: Italian, English

Posted in Drop By, Far and away, Tourist Traps | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Brusselicious Tram Experience

Posted by rachelinbxl on April 4, 2012

Part of the Brusselicious festival of food experiences this year (2012) is the Tram Experience. The menu changes every 2 weeks, with Michelin star chefs from different restaurants inventing menu’s to be prepared (at least partially) and served on board of a specially converted 50 year old tram as it performs a 2 hr tour of Brussels. I HAD to experience this!
I didn’t select the date based on chef, but on availability of a weekend date when a friend from the UK could join me. So, by chance, it was Pierre Resimont of L’Eau Vive who came up with the menu we experienced on Sunday 1 April (no joke). The boarding pass said 11:45 for a 12 noon departure. This was very optimistic! We boarded nearer 12:20.
One of my first questions was whether a table was reserved – or whether it was a free for all as couples fought for the tables for 2 (which are more popular than the tables for 4). But no, you are assigned a table by the gentleman receiving guests at the Poelaert tram stop. People were a bit more dressed up than for a normal tram ride, which I thought was really cute, as it is NOT the same as a Michelin star restaurant!
There are hosts to welcome you, and take your coat, however. The chef preparing the dishes came through and explained the amuse-bouches, which were not on the menu, and our waiter explained each wine (selected to go with the food). So.. what you see here are:
The tram table for 2 seen from the outside as the tram pulled in ; the amuse bouches – foie gras with a granny smith mousse, a double layer pea conconction with a quails egg and mushrooms at the texture change, and pizza dough worked into a crunchy bread, with truffles in. All very tasty and served with an excellent glass of cava.


The menu then listed: mushroom soup with farmhouse eggs, foie gras, artichoke, chestnut. This was very good – though the crunchy bread added nothing. Then there was Anjou-style young pigeon with puree of Jerusalem artichokes, buttered cabbage and legs a la Royale (a source of great amusement to my dining partner who was unimpressed with the actual presentation of these legs!). These were accompanied by a Macon village Chardonnay (very pleasant) and a Mas from Roussillon (less impressive, very French, which is not my thing – too much tannin) respectively. There was then a Rum Babe with pineapple and mango. This was mini, and the service lacked flair. The table of 4 next to us had eaten their mini portions before the little jug of rum arrived! Luckily we had been served a lot later – with rum before dessert ;-).

The chef can be seen preparing our pigeon in the small kitchen. Not bad for a small area, and yes, there is a toilet on board – though the unlock on the outside works even if it is locked from the inside.. and there is a sign explicitly requesting that gentlemen sit to urinate.. which given the bumps is probably necessary. The tram driver tried desperately not to shake us around too much, and compared to most tram drivers, it was smooth. There was only one time I was serving water and almost missed. The tables have sunken circles to hold the glasses, plates etc in place.
The two hour tour follows this route. The tram itself looks better at night (see another blog), but I was glad to have the view during the day. And we were lucky that it was cold, but sunny!

But was it good??? Well, I really enjoyed each of the courses. The mushroom soup was probably my highlight, and I could definitely have skipped the dessert without feeling I had missed anything. Wine and water were a volonte, which was surprising, considering that the website had specified there would only be 1 glass of each. The service was swift.. but not rushed. In fact the two hours passed very quickly. My friend from the UK was delighted, but I won’t be offering a Michelin 3 course meal to every visitor! Still, an experience indeed.
And when we disembarked, our chef got out to say goodbye – see the last pictures.

Posted in Far and away, Get it to go, Hot List | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Resto Days at l’Atelier de Michel D

Posted by rachelinbxl on May 15, 2011

The second location I tested in the RestoDays crazy week was l’Atelier de Michel D. The chef, Michel, won a prize as Belgium’s top chef – as described on the webpage (see the end of this blog), so I was excited to try his creations. The location is not-central, kind of out-of-the-way really.. but the place is nice. The kitchen is surrounded in glass, so you can watch the artists at work. Unfortunately I misunderstood the menu pricing and thought that drinks were included in the meal menu (on the restodays site). This was reinforced at the restaurant with the restodays menu being presented with a slide in sheet about the all-in wine, water, coffee at 28 euros (the same as the food). We got a nasty shock at the end of the meal when we discovered that it was 2×28 euros per person. Quite frankly I would not have selected those wines, nor paid 28 euros for them per person. I was shocked at the lack of clarity and it left a rather bitter taste in my mouth. We felt it was rather underhanded dealings and that it was deliberately done. This was perhaps not the case, but I left my review on hold until I calmed down a little. So, here goes:
This restodays menu left no room for choice. The starter was called Salmon canneloni with king crab, asparagus guacamole and acidic apples. This is how it looked.

Starter

Salmon canneloni with king crab, asparagus guacamole and acidic apples

I saw the chef making this slip a slice in his mouth, so I knew it couldn’t be bad. Indeed this was a very good mix. The crab taste was somewhat lost in the asparagus and salmon flavours, but the wasabi mousse on the side was a huge plus point for the salmon. It was served with fresh-out-of-the-oven bread rolls (choice of brown, white or poppy seed). It was all melt-in-your-mouth texture and very refreshing. A good start after the glass of cava and a small mise-en-bouche of gazpacho, a tapenade pastry and an asparagus mousse thing.
The restaurant was busy, and not just with restodays customers. I had the impression that those eating the more expensive menus got priority, but I was enjoying watching the cooking, so we waited patiently for our quail – served with foie gras, roasted asparagus, sweet potatoes and a morel mushroom sauce.

Main

Quail with roast asparagus, foie gras, sweet potatoes etc

There were lots of different flavours on this plate. In fact, too many for my taste. I also didn’t really like the red wine we received with this course. I am not a fan of white asparagus, but this was cooked well and the morel mushroom sauce was rich and meaty. The fried ball of potato and cheese did nothing for me, so I gave it to my dining partner. The spinach was excellent – it had a smokey flavour that was very interesting.  It was not in the meal description and I noticed that diners late r in the evening didn’t get it – I felt glad we had.  The quail was very well cooked but did not have a strong flavour itself. The sweet potatoes were nice, but I just felt the dish didn’t gel together. Nothing really enhanced the flavour of another part.  I ate it pretty separately.

Dessert

Frozen fresh cheese with red fruits

The dessert’s description let it down – it was a highlight. I was expecting just a fresh cheese with fruit sauce – but this cubic creation has a thin layer of meringue at the bottom, then the frozen fromage frais, with a chocolate centre. The two fruit coulis’ were raspberry and mango and the fresh fruits were delicious. This was excellent and a good way to end the meal. The coffee was very welcome – to aid digestion.
Of course, I could have used a large glass of something stronger to help me digest the unexpected bill – but live and learn.
In all, this is not a restaurant I’ll go back to – but if you are looking for something different and daring, and have a large budget for it – then this is a place to test

L’Atelier de Michel D
Place de la vielle halle aux bles
1000 Bruxelles
Food: B
Atmosphere: B
Service: B
Price: C-
Languages: French

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Bite Me in Stockholm

Posted by spacemonkey99 on July 20, 2010

If you ever have the chance to go to Stockholm, order some reindeer!  It has a gamey taste – tender and excellent!

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Bite Me in Paris

Posted by spacemonkey99 on July 18, 2010

Eating falafels and lamb meatballs in the Jewish quarter – Paris.  The fried aubergine was to-die-for!

Posted in Far and away | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »