Nuance is a 2 Michelin star restaurant located in the center of Duffel, near Antwerp, in Belgium. A modern black and white façade welcomes visitors, and inside the contemporary modern interior follows the same path with dark tinted walls, subtle lights effects and a tight table decoration.
The rather small place oozes luxury and warmth and is a perfect example of a fine dining urban restaurant.
Thierry Theys is one of the youngest and most remarkable Michelin star owners in Belgium. Aged only 27, Thierry has a CV that is exceptional in terms of both achievements and guts. After only a few years of work experience in restaurants (from Alain Ducaisse – Paris and Monaco), Thierry and his girlfriend Sofie Willemarck decided to open u their own food temple.
The restaurant was only open for 6 months when it got a 16/20 score from GaultMillau (in 2012: 17/20), and a first Michelin star followed quickly after. Only one year later, the second Michelin star was obtained – a reward that is usually given to established and experienced chefs. Thierry also got “crowned” to Best youngest Chef of 2009, and has its own cooking show on the Belgian culinary TV channel Njam.
Thierry and Sofie show a unique sense of perfectionism – Thierry in the food and the kitchen, and Sofie in her approach towards a perfect service.
Nuance serves only one menu: “Menu Smaaknuances”, which you can have in 5 or 6 courses. Prices are very reasonable for a 2 star restaurant: The 5 course menu comes at 80 euro, 6 courses will cost you 95 Euro. Matching wines are 30 euro / 38 euro.
From day 1 Thierry is aiming for perfection in his food. He combines a classic basis with modern cooking techniques, and has a preference for strong, distinctive tastes. The use of many contrasts (sour/sweet, cold/hot, crispy/soft, …) and a remarkable level of complexity makes dining at Nuance an unforgettable experience.
We visited the restaurant on 11/02/2012, chose for the Menu in 5 courses (+ cheese), and were served the following:
King prawn, sea structures
This course had some very intense tastes, straight from the sea – a good counterbalance to the juicy and almost sweet prawn.
Cod, pasta, mushroom
This was the most traditional course, with a nice piece of tong melting fish, but with less surprising tastes than the first course.
Beef, black garlic, crisp, crumble
A perfectly tender piece of beef, combined with an almost sweet crumble, one long Belgian crisp and a range of autumn vegetables.
Cheeses, raisin bread
The presentation and the choice of the cheeses was something disappointing compared to the other dishes. Quality was good, but this course was a missed chance to impress (e.g. accompaniments, presentation).
White chocolate, rose, citrus
The deserts were of very high quality, with special ingredients and distinctive flavors presented in a beautiful matter. The first one combined sweetness, sourness and bitterness and incorporated the rose flower as a unique taste as well.
The second desert was inspired by Nespresso, and offered different Nespresso (coffee) tastes, combined with orange and bitter accents. A nice landscape indeed!
Coffee & sweets
We found ourselves having an impressive menu with complex dishes and with a consistent “taste curve” – going from light to heavy tastes, and back again to light and fresh taste accents.
We started with the house champagne and the pairing wines with the menu. Overall quality was very good, yet not memorable. Yes, the food is the main star at Nuance.
The “Belgian Taste Buds” Experience
Our dining experience at Nuance was a very pleasant one, and we agree that Thierry Theys is one chef to watch out for. Thierry and Sofie show a lot of perfectionism and passion in their work, and despite their young age they display a very high level of overall quality, which demands respect.
We paid +- 150 euro per person, all included, and felt this is the right price for this kind of restaurant.
When we received the bill, we noticed some mistakes on it – which is always a bit of a shame as this is your last memory of the restaurant. This did not spoil the fun, however, and we will surely head back to Nuance in the near future.
Belgian Taste Buds:
– Food Buds 8/10
– Wine Pairing Buds 7/10
– Price/Quality Buds 8/10
– Experience Buds 8/10