ANTWERP: Joachim Boudens and Gert de Mangeleer, the duo behind the success of three Michelin star restaurant Hertog Jan and now entrepreneurs in their own right have been keeping busy despite the pandemic.
After the successful return of Hertog Jan in a new intimate format, they have opened a second branch of their highly successful classic French-Belgian brasserie Bar Bulot in Antwerp. The first one opened in Bruges and immediately was rewarded with a Michelin star and also voted as Brasserie of the Year by Gault Millau.
That makes it two restaurant openings in the span of two weeks. And both have started with a bang. This is the first time the duo have ventured outside of Bruges where they have made a name for themselves with three restaurants. And in doing so, they have clearly added to the allure of Antwerp, which is fast becoming the gastronomic capital of Belgium.
Bar Bulot is their latest opening. They opened their first Bar Bulot in summer of 2019 as a temporary seafood restaurant but today it is a fully fledged restaurant serving both classic fish and meat dishes.
The new location of Bar Bulot in Antwerp is on the site of Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp, a new five star superior hotel with wellness and meeting facilities in the city centre. It is just a few metres away from their new Hertog Jan where they want to start a new chapter in their gastronomic story.
Leading the team at Bar Bulot in Antwerp are hostess Elske Mostert and chef Koen Gussenhoven. The Dutch chef trained in the Netherlands has started his career at Pure C and FG restaurant and foodlabs. After that he was sous-chef of Brasserie Maris-Piper in Amsterdam and sous-chef of restaurant Mijn Keuken in Wouw. On the other hands, Elske was the former Wine Director of the Breda Group in Amsterman.
The menu at Bar Bulot has the seafood and shellfish classics such as tomato shrimp with hand-peeled shrimps from Nieuwpoort, homemade shrimp croquettes that had been perfected at the first Bar Bulot or the exceptional braised Zeeland eel with green herbs (which we tried) and which reminded me of a classic Hertog Jan dish.
There is also the hand-cut steak tartare from the bavette of West Flanders Beef (also excellent) served with fries which alone are worth the journey. There are also grilled veal kidneys with grain mustard and tarragon.
This time round, given we had a round of appetizers to start (don’t miss the calamari rings) and the preserves specifically made for the brasserie (from anchovies tuna and sardines), we skipped what is turning to be the ‘piece de resistance’. It is the ragout of Bresse chicken with sweetbreads, hand-peeled shrimps and mousseline sauce served in puff pastry. That will have to wait for our next visit to Antwerp.
The place has been designed to give the feeling of a metropolitan brasserie. There is a large bar that enhances the bustling, urban feeling. The counter seats offer a view of the large open kitchen and there is also a spacious terrace.
Joachim Boudens told Food and Wine Gazette that while the design features and colours of the two Bar Bulot’s were the same, the one in Antwerp was more in line with their vision of what a Belgian brasserie should look like.
The counter seats that offer a view of the large open kitchen are aimed at hotel guests who might be traveling alone and who would prefer to sit at a counter rather than at table. Even in this, both Gert and Joachim have spared thought of all the details.
Time and time again, Gert and Joachim have managed to exceed expectations whether it is with their three Michelin star restaurant Hertog Jan, L.E.S.S. Eatery, Bar Bulot or the fast food outlet Babu Bunners which opened earlier this year in Gent.
The duo’s attention to detail, passion, knowledge and experience is evident in all of their projects. Bar Bulot in Antwerp is set to follow on this trend. Here, the two have taken the best of Belgian (and French) gastronomy and modernised it without losing anything of the traditions. You could say they’ve perfected the art of the classics making use of the best possible ingredients to showcase Belgium’s culinary traditions.
Lange Gasthuistraat 41, Antwerp
Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 12-13.30pm and from 7pm to 9pm