Hocus Pocus (Nieuwenhove)

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The Place

Restaurant Hocus Pocus is a small restaurant remotely located in Nieuwenhove, a tiny village between Ninove and Geraardsbergen (near Brussels). The name ‘Hocus Pocus’ derives from the love from the owners for everything that is related to magic & witchcraft.

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The restaurant is established in a former villa and the interior brings a strange mix between old and modern. The aperitif can be consumed in the veranda, which is decorated with elements relating to magic. The eclectic interior mix made us feel it could be upgraded if one coherent style would be chosen.

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The Chef

Patrick Stevens is the chef and owner at restaurant Hocus Pocus. Patrick is a self-made chef and gained experience as a bar owner and from dining in restaurants all over Belgium. Together with his wife Hilde Everaert, who is responsible for the service, he opened the restaurant 10 years ago. The duo works alone in the restaurant and to keep things pleasant only 20 diners are allowed. As a chef, Patrick chooses to bring the traditional Belgian kitchen, presented in a modern way. Old and traditional regional dishes are reinvented by the chef and presented at the table with new and remarkable techniques.

The Food

To keep things manageable for the chef and his wife, guests are recommended to choose for the menu (3 courses € 38, 4 courses € 50, 5 courses € 67). During the week, the dishes from the menu can also be chosen à la carte. We sampled the 5 course menu.

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Appetizers

Upon arrival we discovered some fresh olives and home-made crisps on the table, but felt these didn’t really belong in a fine-dining restaurant. The first appetizer with foie tasted good but the accompaniment choices were rather obvious. The pea soup was a little bit standard and disappointed in presentation. The last appetizer was very good and surprised with a great taste, interesting ingredient choices and nice textures.

Foie, apple, cranberries

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Pea soup, foam of bacon

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Quinoa, crumble of pickles, cream of parsnip, parsley

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Aperitif: Champagne Patrick Breul brut prestige

Menu

The menu itself kicked off with a salmon preparation which was good, although the cucumber variations could have used some extra seasoning. The second course, pork belly, received a little bit too much pepper and the combination with the buttermilk was a bit dangerous. A solid piece of ray came with shrimps and a shellfish jus that was redrawn at the table. The main course, Sirloin beef, came with a delicious sauce with beer and chocolate, but the meat itself was a little bit leathery. The dessert was the highlight of the menu: citrus was greatly combined with almonds and white chocolate.

Self-smoked Scottish ‘Label Rouge’ salmon / Greek yogurt / cucumber / radish / citrus
Wine: Riesling 2011 Luss, Domaine Léon Boesch, Elzas
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Oriental lacquered pork belly / potatoes / buttermilk / beans / quail eggs
Wine: Gris Gris, Blanc de Gris, Mas des Caprices, 2011, Mireille & Pierre Mann, Leucate

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Ray / shrimps / pancetta / shellfish jus
Wine : Domaine Les Hautes Terres, 2011, Cuvée Louis, Limoux
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Sirloin ‘Duroc d’olives’ / Sprouts / horseradish / mushroom / carrot / sauce with dark castle beer and chocolate / pont neuf potatoes
Wine: La Ferme Saint-Martin, Les terres jaunes, Guy & Thomas Jullien, 2012, Beaumles de Venise
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Citrus / almond / white Dominican chocolate

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Coffee & sweets

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The Wines

We enjoyed a great Champaign with our appetizers and were equally impressed by the pleasant biological wine selection that accompanied our menu.

The “Belgian Taste Buds” Experience

Our dining experience at restaurant Hocus Pocus was twofold: on the one hand, we thought a part of the dishes (like the pea soup and the pork belly) missed flavor cohesion, taste/seasoning balance and creativity in product choices. On the other hand, some of the dishes (like the dessert and the appetizer with quinoa) stood out and proved that the chef is capable of creating great gastronomic preparations. If the chef continues to look for great dishes that combine interesting ingredients, the right amount of seasoning and a healthy dose of creativity, we will definitely hear more about Hocus Pocus in the future.

Belgian Taste Buds:

–          Food Buds                                                         6.5/10

–          Wine Pairing Buds                                            7/10

–          Price/Quality Buds                                          6.5/10

–          Service Buds                                                      6/10

–          Experience Buds                                               6.5/10

Hocus Pocus
Nieuwenhovestraat 12
9506 Nieuwenhove
+32 (0) 54/240.238
http://www.restauranthocuspocus.be

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