Joan restaurant (Ghent)

© Joan

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In this tiny spot – that the people of Ghent won’t speak of for fear of no longer being able to get a table – Jolijn Van Den Bossche, an interior designer by training, welcomes you in as she would to her own home. In a space with brick walls, waxed concrete floors, vintage chairs and pendant lights, the neo-chef sends out small, classic transalpine plates: vitello tonnato pimped out with fried capers, arugula and croutons; prime rib tagliata with pine nuts, Parmesan and salsa verde; vongole and mussels seasoned with plenty of ’nduja and aioli; very tender polpettine swimming in tomato sauce with fresh herbs; oyster mushrooms and brown mushrooms en papillote under slices of coppa; al dente broccolini intensified by a chili-caper sauce and grilled lemon… And the tiramisu? Plain, very creamy and with a salted top layer! // Alba Nebbioli

FEELING THIRSTY? Italian-centric drinks: cocktails (White Negronis with white vermouth, Suze, gin and Italicus at €11.50), mocktails (Lady in Red with blood orange, cranberry juice, apple juice and rosemary at €7.50), a very short selection of organic and natural wines – a skin-contact Pinot grigio from Veneto Azienda Fidora or a Trebbiolo from La Stoppa (€9 a glass, €52 a bottle) and, for a digestive afterwards, homemade limoncello or Nonino amaro (€7.50).
PRICE: Plates €5 to €16.50, desserts €6.50 to €8.

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