Pei et Mei in the Brussels dialect roughly means boy and girl. It is also the name of a restaurant opened earlier this year in the Sablon area of Brussels by Gauthier De Baere and Melissa Triantopoulos, who on the Brussels scene don’t really need an introduction because Gauthier worked under Alain Troubat of Stirwen in Place Jourdan and Le Fourneau and Melissa is the daughter of Evan of the Gril aux Herbes in Wemmel.
The Sablon is probably one of my favourite areas in Brussels so this new restaurant is a very welcome addition to this hub of Belgian gastronomy (I am also including the chocolatiers and patissieres here).
It came highly recommended, at least from the reviews that I had read earlier and it clearly did not disappoint us. We were told when we booked a table that if we were to be more than 15 minutes late we should inform them, otherwise they would give away the table. It may be a bit archaic but it is a fair approach and one which is a middle of the road approach to asking for your credit card details in advance or paying in advance (see our post on Next Restaurant for that).
We were not disappointed. With a Scandinavian interior décor which leads to an open kitchen, the cooking is not minimalist. It is however extremely tasty and goes that extra bit in serving classics with a twist. The wine list, while not huge, has an excellent selection of wines. On this particular night we chose a Riesling from Alsace and a Greek red wine from Alpha Estates, both of which were excellent.
The choice on the menu is also very interesting. It is normally a very good sign when there are several items on offer which are all intriguing. What’s more, when you see that they have mashed potatoes ‘a la Robuchon’ served with many of their dishes you know that they take their cuisine and reputation very seriously because Robuchon is famous (apart from his many Michelin stars) for his mashed potatoes.
My starter was a tuna tartare with a quail’s egg, seaweed and a wasabi mayonnaise which was excellent. My wife had a bisque of langoustines served with Nobashi prawns in tempura and a mix of sauces. It was also great.
For main courses, my wife opted for the cod cooked in the oven and served with a beurre blanc and mussels while I went for a veal chop which was cooked rare to perfection. Given we were a table of six, I also tried the basque blood pudding with esplette peppers, a sweet onion jam and caramelised apples which was also excellent.
For dessert we had a trio of chocolate which included an ice–cream, a bitter chocolate mousse and a chocolate brownie with Macadamia nuts. For chocolate lovers this is heaven on a plate.
Verdict: Book and go. It is incredibly busy so it would be wise to book beforehand. You can choose items from the menu and pay set prices unless you go for the a la carte menu which is a very good option. We went for dinner but the lunch menu (three tastings from the market menu at 19 Euros looks incredibly good value for money and hence worth trying). Expect to pay around 60 euros per person with a decent bottle of wine.
Address: Pei et Mei, 15, Rue de Rollebeek, 1000 Bruxelles
Open: Tuesday to Saturday from 12 to 2pm and from 7pm to 10pm.