Atelier Gist

Atelier Gist Restaurant (Geraardsbergen)

© Pieter D'Hoop

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Intoxicating! After playing with fire at Burnt and then at L’Histoire 32 in Aalst, self-taught chef Jason Spinoy and his wife Laurence Menten have finally found their own corner of paradise. And nothing’s going to get in their way! At this old renovated farmhouse (exposed timber beams, large wooden counter bordering the open kitchen and its burning flames) in the middle of the countryside, it’s charring and fermenting a-gogo! That evening, there were 12 courses alternating between mains and appetizers: delicious crispy chicken skin spread with creamy brown butter, topped with flame-grilled wild garlic; coffee meringue with a dollop of smoked eel cream, black garlic, burnt onions and lardo di Colonnata; marvelous raw scallops reigning upon a chawanmushi bathed in a koji and fermented celery juice and dotted with finger lime; perfectly poached meagre atop grilled kohlrabi chunks and a caramelized cream, which the chef himself drizzles with an umami-esque chicken broth infused with razor clams cut with chervil oil; perfect just-cooked langoustine accompanied by butternut squash in various forms (pickled, mashed and as a kosho-flavored foam), all whipped up with an intense langoustine head juice; smoked lamb leisurely cooked over the fireplace, served with a truffled onion cream, morels and koji gravy. And for a soft landing, a milky foam hiding a wild berry sorbet and a rose and white chocolate crumble. There’s more: the excellent homemade sourdough bread is available to take-away when ordered in advance. // Alba Nebbioli

FEELING THIRSTY? Living wines that are alive and kicking! Vinel·lo Blanco VN, a Catalan white blend from Partida Creus (€52 a bottle), Brutal, an Austrian rosé from Gut Oggau (€81), or Grain et Granit, a Régnié from Thévenet (€54), plus 20 Flemish beers – Super Noah from t’Verzet (€5.50 for 330 ml), Prium Mirabelle from 3 Fonteinen (€43 for 750 ml) – and a festive collection of non-alcoholic fermented drinks, including an excellent cherry cranberry concoction (which tasted like a kriek) at €11.50 a glass.

PRICE: Menus €62-78 (lunch), and €104-129, food-wine pairings €52.50 and €64.

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