Hertog Jan (Bruges)
Hertog Jan is a 3 Michelin star restaurant, situated in Sint Andries, near Bruges – one of Belgium’s most beautiful cities. This convenient location makes it perfect for a (gastronomical) weekend out. The restaurant was founded as an inn (a resting place between Bruges and Zevenkerken) and was later turned into a café, a bar, a brasserie, and finally into what it is today: one of the three 3 Michelin stars restaurants in Belgium. The residence is a typical West Flanders styled structure, situated on the (busy) road between Bruges and Torhout. However, the restaurant is planning to move to another location in the near future.
* For our 2014 review, click here.
Hertog Jan is the culinary project of Gert de Mangeleer (kitchen) and Joachim Boudens (wines). The two met at another Michelin star restaurant, ‘t Molentje, and decided to go their own way with Hertog Jan in 2005. Both Gert and Joachim have several awards on their palmary: Gert as ‘Most inventive Belgian chef’ and Joachim as ‘Best Belgian sommelier in 2005 and 2011’. An impressive duo indeed.
Gert de Mangeleer describes his kitchen as “Simplicity is not simple” and tries to prepare surprising dishes with “simple” products. As an example of this philosophy, he often quotes his Tomato dish with more than 10 different kinds of (homegrown) tomatoes.
One of the distinguishing aspects about Hertog Jan is that all vegetables, spices and fruit they serve is grown in their own bio-farm (‘farmed’ by Bart Praet, one of the (ex) sous-chefs of Hertog Jan). This way they can offer more than 400 varieties of “simple” products, like mini vegetables and special spices.
We went there on a Saturday evening, 29/10/2011, decided to go for the 5 course menu and had a ride on an exceptional gastronomic train:
Foie Gras – Beet/Cherry
Rice/butter caramel/ yoghurt
Coffee/ Liquorice/Passion fruit
Chocolates: Fisherman friends /sesam (made by Dominique Persoone – The Chocolate Line)
It was an extraordinary menu, where for me the Lamb was the highlight – one of the best pieces of lamb I have ever tasted, together with a unique range of delicious carrot preparations.
You can see the list of the wines we had in the picture underneath. The amazing thing about the wines in this restaurant was you could really consider them as an extra ingredient to the dishes. When tasted separately, they were ‘just’ very good – but not outstanding and sometimes even a bit surprising/weird (like a sweet wine at the beginning of the menu). However, when tasted together with the dishes, they became outstanding. The unique blend of both wine and food together really made that 1 + 1 became 3.
The “Belgian Taste Buds” Experience
We were “lucky” and visited Hertog Jan just 3 weeks before it received its 3th Michelin star. Although it was a memorable experience, we do believe there must be more surprising 3 star restaurant experiences. The food, wine and service were extraordinary, but we experienced some very small ‘downsides’ that you wouldn’t expect in a 3 star restaurant.
This however didn’t spoil the fun for us, and it was a great experience that we will not forget. Thank you Hertog Jan!
The day after we visited Kookeet in Bruges, a culinary event initiated by Geert Van Hecke, the chef from the other 3 Michelin stars restaurant in Bruges, De Karmeliet. 28 top chefs and other culinary magicians from Bruges presented one dish for 3, 6 or 9 Euros in a tent park located on the Grote Markt in Bruges. The perfect finish for a culinary weekend in Bruges.
Belgian Taste Buds:
– Food Buds 9/10
– Wine Pairing Buds 9.5/10
– Price/Quality Buds 7.5/10
– Experience Buds 8.5/10