Barge Restaurant (Brussels)

© Maurine Toussaint

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From the large windows overlooking the wet cobblestones of Boulevard de Dixmude, Barge looks more like a solo liner than, well… a barge. Never mind: set against a backdrop of bare bricks and concrete, Grégoire Gillard (ex-Air du Temps) has been alone at the helm of the ship ever since the departure of Barbara Hoornaert, his associate-cum-sommelier. He sails this restaurant – booked up months in advance – through the storm as if it were the calmest sea. On the menu, lunch-farers were treated to salsify prepared cacio e pepe-style, before making way for slow-cooked monkfish flanked by carrot served in various guises, plus a fermented pepper sauce. What next? Dainty morsels of giant Aquitaine chicken, plated in a garland alongside onions stuffed with king trumpet mushrooms, aioli and the meat’s cooking juices; before landing on a dessert showcasing the apple in all its forms – including alcoholic ones. It would no doubt be dishonest not to say that everything smacks of starry perfection… But who’s going to complain about perfection? // Toni Negroni

FEELING THIRSTY? A wonderful naturist menu now driven by Marie Houx: Avis de Tempête No. 13, a Jura Chenin from Ratapoil (€62 a bottle), a shape-shifting Savigny-lès-Beaune red from Fanny Saber (€100), a sweet Sicilian late harvest from Alessandro Viola (€60) and a selection of wines by the glass at €10.

PRICE: Menus €55 (lunch) and €80 (dinner), food and wine pairings from €40.

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