Lunch at Likoké – Passion (Les Vans, France)
Likoké is located in the former bistro of Piet Huysentruyt, in the beautiful Ardèche region in France.
* For our dinner review at Likoké, click here.
It is a small three-floor restaurant for maximum twenty four persons and is decorated with local, warm furnishings: wood from the Camargue, stones from the Ardèche, chairs with fabrics of local cows, …
The bright colors of the modern chairs and on the walls reflect Piet his character and the restaurant boasts a small but impressive open kitchen on the first floor.
Piet Huysentruyt is a famous television chef from Belgium. His career did not start with television, but with a top restaurant located in Wortegem-Petegem. In this restaurant Piet surprised his guests twenty years ago with combinations like turbot, veal brain and black pudding – a dish that is also served in his new restaurant today. Underrated and misunderstood by many, the flamboyant chef decided to build his career in television and became one of the most successful TV chefs in Belgium.
After years of performing in primetime cooking shows on television; the release of almost twenty cookbooks; and the management of a bistro restaurant, Piet decided that he was ready for his final and ultimate challenge: Likoké. With this restaurant, Piet returns to his true passion and demonstrates a continuous quest for new impulses and a search for the perfect taste.
By choosing the name Likoké, Piet pays an ultimate tribute to his father who was given this nickname in colonial Congo. Likoké referred to an intelligent fish that was hard to catch and the villagers chose this name for Piet’s father as a sign of respect. Piet’s father is a returning aspect in the story of Likoké and it is beautiful to see how this family story led to an amazing gastronomic restaurant.
Together with the executive chef Wouter Van Der Vieren and the rest of the team, Piet creates a very special kind of cuisine: deeply rooted in the soil of Southern France and with great respect for local, homemade products, his kitchen is contemporary but very unique on its own.
It incorporates exciting ingredients, diverse textures, humor, dare and above all – a great taste. In Likoké taste comes first and techniques follow – a sequence that is often reversed in many modern restaurants. We were heavily impressed by the great flavors of all his dishes and the passion that was reflected in the plates. Every dish came with a story and this makes a lunch or dinner at Likoké a unique experience.
The chef loves to use ingredients from his childhood combined with modern touches, and serves his tasty dishes in a six or nine course tasting menu or à la carte. For lunch we had a special 8-course summer truffle menu.
The appetizers are modern creations based on two ingredients from the Ardèche: olives and sausage.
o Olive Twigs with polenta, sprayed with olive oil at the table
o Tomatoes Shot
o Homemade chorizo sausage, home dried, with chorizo crumble
o Sausage with garlic
o Bread with butter & candied mustard
o ‘Broodje gekapt’: chopped meat with bread and spices
o Olive Tapenade ‘olive sphere’
Beluga caviar “lentils”, girolles, foie de canard, sepiones, dashi and summer truffle
Cepes and joint: Cepes with garlic, black olive, beurre noisette foam and finished with summer truffle. It is accompanied on the table by a burning ‘joint’, coming from the forest with sage and bacon. Ode to the hippies from the mountains in Les Vans.
Truffle ball: root nature, smoked egg yolk and buttermilk
Ode to Piet’s restaurant in Wortegem: Turbot is combined with veal brains, black pudding cream, applesauce, gravy razors and finished with summer truffle: a dish sublime in taste and flavor combinations.
Norway lobster is served with pig’s head, langoustine foam and summer truffle – another remarkable combination of ingredients but also superb in flavor
Charolais beef, marrow, artichoke juice, foam and summer truffle
Goat cheese, goat snow, cremeuse of goat cheese, and summer truffle honey and truffle
The final dessert just blows us away and enters easily in our top five of favorite desserts ever: celeriac, vanilla ice cream with bacon and truffle, celeriac juice (celery poached in sugar syrup with lemon and vanilla), chocolate coffee crumble and date vinegar. Incredible!
Coffee & sweets
Wines are presented by the young and charming Maité Reybrouck and she serves beautiful pairing wines with the menus, as well as an interesting wine list. Most wines are French, coming from the Ardèche region, and prices are very correct (starting at twelve euro for a bottle!).
These were our wines during the lunch:
- Aperitif Champagne Ruinart, house cocktail with sparkling wine and acacia honey or local ‘traditional method’ Chardonnay Brut.
- Domaine Du Tunnel 2011 – Saint Péray, Rhône, bio dynamic Rousanne.
- Terre d’Amandier, Chardonnay, 2011, Ardèche
- La Selve, Serre de Berty 2007, biodynamic, IGP Coteaux de l’Ardeche, (Syrah, Merlot, Grenache
- Hydromel des Duides 2011, Banne Ardèche, based on honey
- Dernière vendages, 2012, Champetier
The “Belgian Taste Buds” Experience
Our visit to Likoké was one of enjoyment, surprise and emotions. It is incredible to see how this team accomplished to achieve such a high level of culinary perfection in just one month. The passionate chef Piet Huysentruyt proves himself as a master of taste, a great people manager and an incredibly friendly host. Likoké is a true discovery in the Ardèche region and although its remote location, it is truly worth the journey!
Belgian Taste Buds:
– Food Buds 9/10
– Wine Pairing Buds 8/10
– Price/Quality Buds 9/10
– Service Buds 8/10
– Experience Buds 9/10
7 Route de Païolive
07140 Les Vans
Phone: +33 627 83 98 57
Nearest airport: Lyon
Nearest train station: Valence