Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Sweet Gesture at 1 Michelin Star Het Gebaar @ Antwerp

A few days ago, hubby asked if I want to try a dessert place with a Michelin Star. Why not? Afterall, I knew that he was the one very eager to go because he has a very big sweet tooth. He would be the first one to say yes to a dessert and then another yes for a dessert after dessert. The Timmermans are really an unbelievably sweet family.

Unfortunately, the reservation for lunch on Thursday is really full and the only availability is at 2.30pm. To me, 2.30pm is way pass my lunch time but for a nice restaurant, I can make an exception. We arrived in Antwerp 20 minutes early and guess what my hubby did? He walked into Hermes, asked the staff for a Birkin bag and she said, "sorry sir, we do not have any ready Birkin bags but if you want to buy one, you will have to fill up the wish list." And my hubby said, "yeah sure and can you please make sure it comes before her birthday?" Lol.. that was so sweet. Luc couldn't believe it when I told him that one has to be on a wait-list for a Birkin and he thought that we can just walk into a shop and buy it. Well, at least now he knows... but still it was so sweet of him to think of getting me one.

The restaurant was just a five-minute walk from the shop and we arrived in time. The little cottage looks really quaint and just behind the cottage is the Antwerp botanical gardens. Who would have guessed that this cottage is the restaurant of Roger Van Damme whom is a celebrity chef on Njam! Tv and apparently he specialises in desserts. I saw his show once on TV and he teaches kids to cook which I find it surprising that he has a 1 Michelin Star dessert restaurant.

 Chef Roger sometimes come out to serve the desserts himself

The place is full full full. There were some walk-in customers and they were told that they can't get a table unless they make a reservation in advance. On weekends though, you do not need a reservation. This is how it works: If one wants to take a main course, he or she has to order a dessert too. If you just plan to take dessert, it's all fine.

They have quite a good selection of main courses consisting of pork, veal, scallops, ravioli and steak tartaar starting at €. And in the dessert selection, they have a few choices too and also classic desserts like creme brulee, dame blanche, chocolate mousse, tarte-tatin and crepes.

We started with a glass of Laurent Perrier Millesime 2004 (€17.50) as an aperitif and then we were served an amuse bouche just like any fine dining restaurants. The amuse bouche was served on a small granite plate that contains chicken with peanut sauce and half a quail's egg with a piece of fried rice cake served with avocado cream and radish. It was really impressive as I can taste the subtle peanut flavours that goes well with the chicken and quail's egg. The bread were good and most importantly, they serve a good piece of butter.

Service was a bit slow. I don't know if it's intended so that the customers have more time to chat in between courses or it was meant for us to anxiously anticipate the next dish? I ordered a recommended dish of the day which consists of lightly seared scallops with clams and potato puree and avocado cream (€32.50).  Presentation was top and so is the food. I love how the chef makes such a dish that tastes so simple and natural yet satisfying in terms of visual and palate. The potato puree was silky smooth and the scallops paired really well with the sauces.

Luc ordered a suckling pig which has a square piece of crackling with a thin layer of pork and underneath the crackling lies a few pieces of oval-shaped pork cheeks (€34.50). It is a very rich dish but lucky the leek and witlof saves the richness of the flavours. Too bad that the waitress served this dish by pouring some brown sauce on top of the crackling because it defeats the whole purpose of making the skin crispy. They should instead pour the sauce from the sides and not on the crackling.

After the main course, we had to wait for about 45 mins before we were told that the desserts that we ordered needed more time because some of the ingredients had run out and they needed more time to remake them. Well, I appreciate that they remade the ingredients so that we can have the desserts but what would be nicer is that they should have told us earlier and maybe we can choose another dessert or we decide to wait? Maybe the staff saw my "not-so-happy" facial expression and they walked over to us to explain and then they served us with a complimentary "pre-dessert". By the time I finished in indulging my "pre-dessert", I was already full and with stomach full of fury?

But I had to agree that the "pre-dessert" is really good.

By the time we were served our desserts, it was already 4.30pm and we were there since 2.30pm. So it takes 2 hours to have a main course and a dessert. The dessert better be good or else I will certainly walk out with a sour face! Mine was called Celebration 20 (€21.50) which is a dessert created for the festive season and also to commemorate 20 years of the existence of the restaurant. It is made with Chef Roger's favourite flavours of raspberry, strawberry, yogurt, basil, cassis and milk chocolate. We had a whole 5 minutes of visually appreciating the dessert before I started digging into this beautiful creation. This is a very beautiful dessert and I ate my plate clean except for the candy which I find to be too sweet and it sticks to my teeth.

Luc's dessert is called "Botanique" (€21.50) which is also called the "sweet garden". It consists of milk chocolate, combined with hazelnut, passionfruit, mango and lime. It is so nicely presented that Luc was a little hesitant to dig into it. He told me it was the most beautiful dessert he has seen and maybe ever eaten! I like the creativity of the chef and how he uses these ingredients and turn them into a garden which is so visually appetising. The taste itself is very good because the sourness from the lime and passionfruit creates a contrast with the richness and sweetness of the chococlate.

Both of us are very happy with the desserts. Perhaps the next time we return, we will just order 2 desserts each instead of a main course and a dessert. What I dislike is the waiting time and the staff even had forgotten our 2nd order of a bottle of water. She wanted to serve it in the end but I stopped her. It was too late and if I have to wait any minute longer for my dessert, I could have canceled it too since I'm not a big fan of sweet stuff. I think it was worth the wait as my hubby is very happy with the dishes. That is the only consolation for the wait. Not that I want to complain but a 3-hour parking in Antwerp is a f@#$$%% €8.70!!! For that I can have a really nice belgium waffle from Desire de Lille and a pack of super tasty frietjes from Frituur No.1. Ish....

But then again, for the desserts, I will be back (only when I crave for sweets).

Het Gebaar
Address: Leopoldstraat 24, 2000 Antwerp
Phone:03 232 37 10


suanie said...

Haha your husband is so sweet. It's not a wait list, it's a wish list? hehehhe

eiling lim said...

suanie: according to the staff, you can't say it's a wait list because some people might never get the bag they want after 2 years so it has to be called the wish list.

Frau Kocks said...

kelly or birkin its crazy strategy they have there. i was in paris hq two years ago, camped at hermes 2 times a day on behalf of my dear sis in order to get the bag and after 5 days, still no luck. we came back to De, went to the Dusseldorf and munich outlet, also no luck ... my hubby said could not believe it and said buying a porsche is much easier!

suituapui said...

That cottage alone already wins hands down!!! Love it! So very nice.

eiling lim said...

Frau Kocks: wow... i will not even do such a thing for a bag. In the end, it's still a bag. I wouldn't mind doing it if i'm going to make big bucks out of it in the future. what your hubby say is true. if you want to buy a porshe it's easier and you probably get a free coffee and discount.

STP: yeah cute cottage indeed.

Sean said...

oh man, the food is astonishingly gorgeous. real works of art (and architecture too). the pre-dessert looks like a science-fiction creation and the final dessert is more beautiful than most real-life gardens :D

Anonymous said...

oklah i think your chanel bag can really pass to me. i dont mind second hand one seriously - ziling

Ciki said...

sooooo luxurious.. really living the life babe! and looking good while you're at it! :D

eiling lim said...

Sean: Yeah it is.. i wonder how they assemble this? Must be delicate hands and super cold room.

Ziling: no way:P

Ciki: Thanks babe

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