Rouge Tomate, Brussels

January 18, 2011

We have enjoyed Rouge Tomate in New York and so were looking forward to going to the original in Brussels. We dined there the evening of January 11, 2011 with Alice and Folker. The restaurant is in a 19th century house on the broad, fashionable Avenue Louise.

The inside renovations are quite simple, in contrast to the impressive, modern ones in New York. Rouge Tomate opened in Brussels in 2001 and in New York in 2008.

Its entrepreneur, Emmanuel Verstraeten, is Belgian, but the chef in Brussels is Californian, trained in the US. Jeremy Bearman is an alumnus of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas and New York City’s db Bistro Moderne.

We were seated at a table near the front in the old part of the restaurant. We declined an aperitif, as we had just enjoyed a bottle of Champagne at Alice and Folker’s nearby apartment. We ordered a bottle of 2007 Saint Véran, Domaine des Deux Roches and one of 2007 Alain Graillot Saint Joseph red. Both were enjoyable.

The amuse-gueule was a little glass of warm vichyssoise with chorizo bits topped with an almond emulsion.
Bread was served with a carrot purée; as in New York, no butter or cream is used or served before dessert.
Folker’s first course was
Saumon sauvage cru mariné, butternut, orange, girolles acidulées et schizo rouge.

He was happy with this dish of marinated raw salmon.

.Alice, Linda and I started with
Tartare de St Jacques, oursin, truffe noire, céleris croquants et vinaigre de vin jaune

The scallops were not as fresh as they should be; they had little flavor and a metallic taste. The other ingredients didn’t seem to add much standing alone. The chef would have done better to concentrate on the scallops and use less expensive garnishes than truffle slices and sea urchin.

Alice’s main course was
Fettuccini al dente, effiloché de courges, pulpe de potiron, huile de truffe blanche et vieux Pecorino

She wrote: What I liked very much with my pasta/pumpkin is the savoury-sweet (sucré-salé) flavour :-).
Linda had
Ris de veau au sautoir, poireaux et cèpes, artichauts, gnocchis poêlés, réduction balsamique noir et basilic frais

She said that the sweetbreads were succulent, the gnocchi light and that she liked the dish a lot.
Folker went on to
Suprême de poulet fermier « Pattes Noires », légumes de saison rôtis, pommes grenailles, bettes et jus au romarin
This was the wing and breast of a farm-raised chicken with winter vegetables.
My main was
Filet pur de taureau camarguais, fenouil, navets, carottes et galette de pommes de terre, jus bordelais

Bulls are raised in the Camargue, the swampy area at the mouth of the Rhône, for the bullfight arenas in Arles and Nîmes. Some find their way to the butcher also. The meat has a strong beef flavor and the filets are tender. The winter vegetables and the little potato cake offset them nicely.

That was plenty of food so we did not order dessert.

Except for the scallop dish, our meal was enjoyable. However, it seemed ordinary to Linda and me compared to our excellent meals at Rouge Tomate in New York, where the chef has been successful in avoiding the blandness that is typical of “bio” meals. The service was not at all up to the level in New York; the Brussels staff seemed uninterested at times. We understand that Mr. Verstraeten hopes to keep expanding Rouge Tomate around the world, with Los Angeles as the next target. I think he needs to upgrade his flagship to his New York standards first.

To see our dinner at Rouge Tomate in New York, click here.

To see our lunch and some background on Rouge Tomate in New York, click here.
The restaurant’s website:

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