Raaf Restaurant (Ghent)

© Phoebe De Corte

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Inside Het Gouden Hoofd, a former neighborhood institution where friends Aram Schuyesmans (ex-Vrijmoed) and Michel Neerinckx (ex-In de Wulf) used to rub shoulders during their years at Publiek, the latter have now set up their own little nest named Raaf (“crow”). If the space has changed very little from its previous iteration (Formica tables, brick and tile walls, a long wooden bar, all partially illuminated by candlelight), things are feeling quite different in the kitchen, where the two thirty-something chefs really stand out. The other night, we had crackers for dipping into a rich onion cream with whole grey shrimp; red mullet and kumquat ceviche covered in a veil of sliced yellow beets; barbecued kohlrabi topped with a lovely green pepper sauce and herring roe; mushrooms and mussels plunged into an umami-rich lime bouillon; Limousin hanger steak and red beets tucked under red endive leaves and intensified by pickles from Tierenteyn; and a decadent butter couque cookie with almond ice cream, Calva-soaked raisins and a hazelnut crumble topping. And if you’ve got the munchies or just want something to pair with a drink, grab a seat at the bar. // Alba Nebbioli ‘

FEELING THIRSTY? Pure natural wines without borders! Tagada Tsoin Tsoin, a delightful Loire pet’ nat’ red from Laurent Herlin (€56 a bottle), A Chaira Dona Branca, a vivifying Galician white from La Perdida (€57), or La Boissière, a spicy Loire Pineau-d’Aunis from Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme (€55). When it comes to the beers, you won’t be disappointed: a pilsner on tap from the local Dok Brewing Company (€2.80 for 250 ml), or Fou’ Foune, a classic apricot lambic from Cantillon (€34 for 750 ml).
PRICE: Tasting menu €55, extra main courses €10-12.

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