Julia restaurant (Koksijde)

© Julia

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Julia, the great-grandmother and the restaurant’s namesake, was a businesswoman ahead of her time; Petje Moone, her father, a transplant from the neighboring town of De Panne; Angus, the current owner and fishing ace; and César, the son and chef running the kitchen… As men and women from the world of fish, the Wittevrongel family have been keeping Saint-Idesbald at high tide for five generations. However, Julia’s soul can be found in Émilie Marquet, a defector from Liège who speaks the local lingo with ease, and who breezily whips up tapas-style dishes and fish to share, made with love. Inside this chic seaside spot with creasless white tablecloths, take a seat at the bar or on the petrol blue banquettes, then kick off with some oysters – take your pick from the endless menu, from exclusive Irish Tia Maraa oysters to the knockout Gillardeau – before the dishes follow one after the next: homemade bruschetta with red mullet, fennel and sweet chili – a mainstay on the menu since 2016; crispy soft-shell crabs; extremely tender scallop carpaccio with brown butter; small sole meunières that fall into line; and shrimp croquettes in a league of their own. At Julia, the sea is all you need. // Kiko Zushi

FEELING THIRSTY? Bottled water €9 a liter, cocktail menu (€14 to €16) and mocktails (€11), consensual wines, but a lovely biodynamic Austrian Sauvignon Vom Opok from Maria and Sepp Muster (€65 a bottle) and En l’Orme, a Burgundy Pinot noir-Gamay from Alexandre Jouveaux (€48).

PRICE: Oysters €26 for six, à la carte €50-100.

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