De Jonkman, Bruges

February 8, 2011

Filip Claeys worked for six years at de Karmeliet, the established three-star restaurant in Bruges, where he learned classic French cooking. He then was at Oud Sluis for five years, learning the inventive technique and philosophies of Sergio Herman. In 2006 he took over de Jonkman on the outskirts of Bruges where he and his wife Sandra continue to offer the new Flemish cuisine. The restaurant is in the former gamekeeper’s house of an old castle on the outskirts of Bruges. It has a lovely garden for summer dining, but that was not part of the scene when Linda and I went for dinner on cold, rainy January 14, 2011.

We were welcomed warmly and ordered glasses of the house Champagne, Lenoble “cuvee intense.” Bread was put on the table with butter and a local specialty, caramelized pork fat with hazelnuts.

We chatted with the chef; he proposed his six-course Winter Menu. We discussed the wine possibilities with Sandra, who is also the sommelier. We ordered a bottle of 2006 Henri Boillot Meursault, which was excellent, and a half-bottle of 2008 Givry 1er Cru, “Clos Salomon” of Domaine Gardin-Perrotto.

The amuse-gueules started arriving:
cake au cornichons and flan de moutarde with a local cheese, described by the chef as traditional local bar food.

Sepia or cuttle fish.

A plain mussel with a wafer.

“Fish and Chips.”

Ox tongue, lentils, potato mousse and a dab of mustard cream.

They were all interesting and good. Too much was going on for me to take notes and the bites too small for me to remember details.


The first course on the menu was
Huître zélandaise marinée, salade de blé, raifort et radis noir

I had discovered that the local oysters are quite large and meaty. They don’t have the sharp taste of the sea so much appreciated in oysters from Brittany, but the flavor is good and lends itself to enhancement. Here the oyster has been marinated and is served with horseradish and black radish. 

Linda does not eat oysters and was served
Langoustine mariné, granny, couscous

Two marinated, raw langoustines were served with slices of Granny Smith apples and a couscous cake. Very good.


Deux préparations de crabe de la mer du Nord: froid/chaud

The first was a tartare of North Sea crab with various dabs. The second was warm crab with foie gras, celery root and a shellfish reduction. The flavor of the fresh crab came through nicely.


Coquille grillée, navets, chou-fleur et escabèche de navets

A grilled scallop was served with turnips, cauliflower and pickled turnips.

Raie sautée, betterave rouge, oignon rouge, picalilli rouge, pomme de terre à la crème aigre et vinaigrette de câpres

A thick piece of skate wing is served with various slightly acidic garnishes and fried capers.

Pigeon de Steenvoorde sur le bbq, carotte mini, crosne et pleurote en huître

The pigeon had been grilled, giving it a crispy skin. The winter vegetables went well with it.


Assortiment de fromages artisanaux de maître fromager Van Tricht

Instead of dessert, we selected cheese. Five varied pieces, perfectly ripe, were served with a compote of dates.

The service was friendly and efficient throughout the evening. The pace slowed down towards the end. There were only 16 other diners, all speaking Flemish, on this Friday evening. The décor is simple and modern.

Our meal had been uniformly good. It had the disadvantage of following Hertog Jan and Oud Sluis the two previous evenings. The other two are more established, high-powered restaurants. All three meals are in the same modern Flemish style so it was hard for Filip to impress us, but he succeeded. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and think that he is a fine chef deserving of recognition. Filip and Sandra were at the door to bid us farewell at the end of the evening and she took this photo for us.

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