Very few days pass without me being asked what is our favourite restaurant in Brussels, given it is the city we know best. But as simple as it may sound, this question is not that easy to answer. In our books, there is no such thing as a favourite or a best restaurant. There are so many good restaurants that it is difficult to pinpoint one. Many times it depends on the occasion, the atmosphere, the quality of the food but also the mood you find yourself in.
Obviously the top restaurants, of which Brussels has many, are stable and always reliable. But then there are many gastronomic restaurants, many by young chefs who are pushing the boundaries with their cuisine and who are worth discovering because they clearly represent the future.
Some gastronomic restaurants in Brussels are now serving set menus in the evening. Chef Erwan Kenzo Nakata of Gramm Restaurant is one of them. In the evening he serves a six course menu which changes every week depending on the seasons and also what takes his fancy.
With a French mother from Brittany and a Japanese father, he is familiar with a double gastronomic culture which is visible in his cooking style. While the emphasis is clearly on French cuisine, there are slight Japanese touches which make the experience unique.
When we visited Gramm a few weeks ago we were not sure what to expect. It was a midweek during Carnival week and the restaurant was half empty. The restaurant had great reviews in 2014 when it opened so we were looking forward to this visit.
We were extremely interested to try a Japanese chef’s take on French cuisine. In this regard, we were pleasantly surprised, though the Japanese influence was minimal.
The restaurant is in Rue de Flandre, in the Saint Catherine area, which is fast becoming one of the culinary areas of Brussels.
The menu is fixed. When we visited we ate chicon with nuts, comté and dates to start with. This was followed by a pasta (stracci) with beetroots, goats cheese and mint. It is a strange combination which works extremely well.
What followed was hake with cucumber and radish, an exceptional combination of flavours.
We were then served a truffled egg. A classic, this dish was simply amazing. The egg was cooked for over an hour at a low temperature.
This was followed by an entrecôte of beef with black garlic, ginger, parsnip and aubergine. This was a stunning dish.
The dessert with banana, chocolate and pain d’epice was also excellent.
Verdict: If you are in central Brussels and have no qualms with being surprised then this is highly recommended. The menu, at 42 €, is excellent value for money. The freshly made bread and butter which they serve is exceptional so don’t hesitate to ask for more. Chef Nakata has a unique way of merging French with Japanese cuisine. There are no clichés in his style. Rather it is a unique expression that is worth trying.