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Restaurant Bon-Bon in Brussels - 2 Michelin stars

Rating: 93.
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Extraordinary (96-100)
Outstanding (93-95)
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In 2011 chef Christophe Hardiquest moved his restaurant from the Brussels municipality of Uccle to the leafy and wealthy municipality of Woluwe Saint-Pierre. Bon-Bon was awarded a second star in November 2013 (2014 guide), ten years after the restaurant had got its first star. Christophe Hardiquest has trained at some of Brussels' most iconic restaurants, such as Sea Grill and Villa Lorraine (Belgium's first three-star restaurant and the first three-star restaurant outside France), but also worked in the kitchens of Michelin starred l'Orangeraie in Zaventem (now defunct) and La Crémaillère in New York City.

Bon-Bon is open for lunch and dinner Monday till Friday (no lunch on Mondays). The restaurant offers an a la carte menu, two surprise tasting menus, 'Le Menu Impro' (5 courses €145) and 'Le Menu Passion' (7 courses €175). At lunch there is also a 'Menu du Marché' on offer (3 courses €80). I had lunch with my husband at Bon Bon on Thursday 21 August 2014 and we both ordered the 5-course Menu Impro.

Lunch started with a selection of appetisers. First to arrive were some delicious thin and crisp tartelettes with three different purees: sweet carrot, smoked celery and pigeon with smoked paprika. Shortly after, these were followed by a crisp, transparent sugar cylinder filled with smooth and creamy avocado puree, caviar and coriander, the combination of avocado and caviar resembling kiwi fruit (no photograph). A comforting dish of potato espuma with smoked garlic and potato croutons was served next. Last to arrive were red orach beignets and spicy Bloody Mary sorbet served with a foamy basil cream and intense-tasting tomato biscuit. A fantastic and creative choice of well-executed appetisers with delicious flavour combinations; I especially loved the red orach beignets and the avocado/kiwi cylinder.

The first course of the Menu Impro was "Bijoux huîtres 'Perle Blanche'". A beautifully presented dish of sliced oysters (wrapped in seaweed) on some crème fraîche that had been mildly flavoured with lovage, and served with caviar, gin and tonic and cucumber gel cubes and a Corsican mint oil. A delightful first course with fresh flavours that displayed a terrific synergy between the oyster, crème fraîche and the gin and tonic gel cubes. The mint oil added a nice extra flavour dimension. 

Second course: carpaccio of ceps (the first of the season) served on a thin layer of tahini paste, and topped with a light foie gras crème sprinkled with coffee, and a light cep juice and Martinique rum foam. A brilliant dish with the perfect balance between intensity and lightness. Lovely, distinctive buttery nuttiness from the tahini paste and the rum in the cep foam added a nice little boozy kick. I loved the purity of the cep carpaccio and the foie gras delivered just the right amount of luxury and richness.

Next up was an exquisite piece of tender and meaty cod, accompanied by an artichoke sauce, Coco de Paimpol beans, artichoke crisps, slivers of salt cured (salaison) 'Rouge de Flandre' beef and a light jus made from raw artichoke and the cod cooking juices. Top-rate ingredients transformed into a very satisfying and refined combination of flavours and textures; the earthy flavours of the artichoke and the beans complemented the cod beautifully and the beef added a nice flavour contrast to the dish.

This was followed by superbly cooked veal, adorned by a Madeira sauce, girolle mushrooms, tahini paste, a few dots of sherry gel, some slivers of wagyu beef ham and a piece of chicory. Well-made Madeira sauce with great depth of flavour and a wonderful Madeira taste coming through. An excellent and harmonious dish with carefully judged sweet and nutty flavours, which enhanced the sweetness of the veal beautifully.

Last course, dessert: in fact in this case it was cheese and dessert combined into one. Smooth, whipped Fontainebleau cheese was successfully paired with herby dill and chervil meringue shards, mini rosemary meringues and a refreshing cucumber and celery syrup-like sauce flavoured with lemon. Also on the plate was a sorrel and peppercorn ice cream, a surprising but gorgeous combination and I loved the intensity of the peppercorn flavours.

Sweets and treats.

The cuisine at Bon-Bon revolves around seasonal, French and Belgian ingredients of exceptional quality that are served in an attractive and creative manner. Christophe Hardiquest presents delightful creations with exuberant flavours and often an imaginative twist. The tasting menu was well-designed and embodied all the elements of contemporary haute cuisine, as modern ingredients and techniques (there is the occasional gel and foam) were being combined with classical sauces and skillfully cooked meat and fish. This is sophisticated food that is not trying to be too clever. Service was attentive and efficient. This place should definitely be on your list when you visit Brussels. Fort Bon!

Posted 03-09-2014


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