Sea Grill, Brussels
January 12, 2011
On January 10, 2011, Linda and I went for dinner at the Sea Grill in the Radisson Hotel in Brussels, a short walk from La Grand’Place. This restaurant earned its second Michelin star four years ago under chef Yves Mattagne, who is well known in his native Belgium.
We ordered glasses of the recommended 2002 Laurent-Perrier Champagne; they were very good and reasonably priced; it is unusual to have a vintage Champagne as the regular aperitif offering. The hors d’oeuvre was a hot accras de lotte with a small dipping bowl of basil-coriander pesto: very good.
There was an extensive and expensive à la carte selection and a tasting menu which one could have in a five-course or eight-course version. We chose the smaller one and did not take the offered wine pairings. The wine list is large and multi-national, but we stuck with the tried and true: 2004 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Chalumeaux” T & P Matrot. It was superb and just right with the fish menu.
The first amuse-gueule was a good tuna tartare with wasabi cream and soy sauce.
Alongside was a small black dome of squid ink meringue, which was sensational, the first great discovery of 2011. The flavor of the squid ink, which we know from risottos and pastas in Italy, was made to sing by the airy egg whites, which had been transformed into a meringue without any evident sugar. Bravo.
The second was a little bowl with a round of foie gras and a small piece of filet of sea bass in a mushroom consommé. (no photo)
The first menu course was
Tempura, Jus de Cacahuètes, Jus de Romaine
This was a surprising cross-cultural mix of tempura with a somewhat Thai sauce : peanut and coconut flavors with slightly hot little green chili rounds. The langoustine was top quality and we enjoyed the dish.
Noix de Saint-Jacques, Huitres “Prat Ar Coum”
Vapeur d’Algues, Cresson, Truffe
The scallops were fresh and good. They were topped with oysters from the northwest point of Brittany that had been enclosed in a clear gel. The thin truffle slices had a nice aroma and flavor. Everything was enhanced by the watercress sauce. Excellent.
Meunière, Béarnaise d’Homard, Rattes, Girolles
The thin slice of sole filet had been lightly floured and sauteed. The Béarnaise sauce had plenty of lobster shards and fresh tarragon. It made the dish quite rich, in contrast to a traditional sole meunière, which is quite austere. Very good.
There was a pre-dessert of a citrus jelly with pear sorbet.
The dessert on our menu was chocolate. No surprise; this is Belgium, after all. But we can have digestive issues with chocolate so late in the evening and asked for a substitution. They let us pick a pear dessert from the à la carte dessert menu. It was excellent.
Then followed the mignardises, which were mostly chocolate, of course.
The ambience was very pleasant with well-spaced tables, nice quiet music and good service. As the evening progressed, the pace became somewhat too slow, which reduced my regrets at our not having ordered the larger version of the tasting menu. It would have included, in addition to what we had: sea bass with shellfish, a pigeon dish and another dessert with pineapple and mango.
Most of the other tables seemed to be ordering from the à la carte menu, including a surprising amount of caviar, which was served on illuminated blocks of ice with thick cream and waffle squares, another sign that we are in Belgium.
There were also whole fish baked in salt and, surprisingly, a duck pressed alongside the table.
We enjoyed our meal very much and would be happy to recommend the Sea Grill.