Trente (Leuven, Belgium)

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The Place

Trente is located in the famous ‘Muntstraat’ in Leuven, Belgium. The Muntstraat is a small and cosy street in the center of Leuven that is crowded with bars and restaurants. Trente is one of the few real fine dining restaurants in this street. The restaurant is established in a very small house with only 10-15 tables. It is a cozy and warm place and the interior was entirely renovated in the beginning of 2016. The open kitchen also is incredibly small – only a few square meters – which is surprising when you see the complex and very detailed dishes that are served. For more information, please consult our first review (2011) here.

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The Chef & The Food

Since the opening of the restaurant, Bart Springael has been responsible for the kitchen. The previous owner, Kwinten De Paepe, also had an important role but left the restaurant a few years ago. Bart Springael took over Trente together with sommelier and maître David Daenens. In the kitchen, Bart is assisted by sous-chef Jos Crabbé.

Bart Springael presents a seasonal, light and delicate cuisine. He does not necessarily focus on luxurious products, but tries to create outstanding dishes with ‘normal’ ingredients instead. What makes his cuisine unique is the link with art. To link gastronomy and art, the chef uses a famous artwork as the basis for the presentation in some of the dishes and appetizers.

For the 10th anniversary of the restaurant, the team created a special ‘art’ menu where each and every dish and appetizers was linked with an artwork. Additionally, all dishes were inspired by other dishes from famous top chefs. A great way to discover Bart’s kitchen, famous artworks, and famous dishes from other chefs, in one single meal! David Daenens surprised us with an interesting wine pairing with a focus on light and acidic wines. The enthusiastic maître also provided us with a comprehensive explanation of each dish, elucidating the link between the dish, the artwork, and the dish from the original chef.

The ‘art menu’ contained the following appetizers and dishes:

Appetizers

“Malevich”
Crispy potato peels cooked in hay with dip of Jerusalem artichoke and walnut oil
Homage to artist Giuseppe Penone and inspired by a dish from chef Rasmus Kofoed from (Geranium).

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“Petite Casserole de Moules”
Mussels with old Geuze, tarragon mustard and tomato
Homage to artist Marcel Broodthaers and inspired by a dish from chef Pierre Wynants (Comme chez Soi).

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“Eggplant Japonaise”
Pastry and cream of eggplant  with black garlic, miso, squid ink and black sesame seeds
Homage to artist Frans Masereel and inspired by a dish from chef Pascal Bardot (L’Astrance).

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“Thai achrome”
Pickled haddock with crème of Tom Kha Kai, pickled mushrooms and coconut powder
Homage to artist Piero Manzoni and inspired by a dish from chef Sergio Herman (Oud Sluis).

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“The Giverny Garden”
Salmon eggs with cream of smoked salmon, sorrel, apple blossom and broth of sorrel and granny smith apple
Homage to artist Monet and inspired by a dish from chefs Frères Troisgros (Maison Troisgros).

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Menu

 

Bread & Butter

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“Zeeberg”
Celery, salt plants, algae, green tea and sea salt
Homage to artist Thierry De Cordier and inspired by “The Sounds of the Sea” from chef Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck).

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“Le Sculpteur de Beurre”
Brill, cauliflower, hazelnut and beurre noisette
Homage to artist Michaël Borremans and inspired by a dish from chef René Redzeppi (Noma).

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“Empire of Flora”
Duck, carrote, seeds, flowers, skins and herbs
Homage to artist Cy Twombly and inspired by the classic “Gargoulliou” from chef Michel Bras (Bras).

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“Mardi: Rouge, le régime chromatique”
Rib eye of beef, red onion, beetroot and red wine
Homage to artist Sophie Calle and inspired by a dish from Kobe Desramaults (In de Wulf).

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“Prédessert”
Granny Smith, chamomile and verbena
Presented on a small version of ‘The son of man’ from René Magritte, inspired by a dish from Franzen (Franzen)

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“Food for Thought”
Textures of Reypenaer cheese and honey
Homage to artist Joseph Beuys and inspired by a dish from Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana).

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 “The Blind Leading the Blind # 30”
Chocolate, coffee and date
Homage to Peter Buggenhout and inspired by a dish from Albert Adriá (El Bulli).

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The “Belgian Taste Buds” Experience

This was the our best visit to restaurant Trente to date. The combination between art and gastronomy was successful and brought a strong added value into the menu. But even more important was that the flavors were correct, the quantities  sufficient, and the menu exciting from start to finish. A restaurant that deserves to be discovered by everybody who loves fine dining, fine art, or both.

Belgian Taste Buds:

–        Food Buds                                                      7.5/10

–        Service Buds                                                  7.5/10

–        Wine Pairing Buds                                           7.5/10

–        Price/Quality Buds                                         8/10

–        Experience Buds                                            8/10

Trente
www.trente.be
Muntstraat 36
3000 Leuven
Tel.: 0032 (0)16 20 30 30

What Others Are Saying

  1. Bartjeuh Apr 9, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Trente sucks! We had the same menu two weeks ago, and were disappointed. VERY disappointed. The mussel appetizer was overcooked, as was the meat in the main course: tasteless and not tender at all. That tastelessness was the common denominator of all dishes.
    There’s a lot more quality on the opposite side of the small street (@ l’Essenciel). This was not our first (so we were awaiting some standards), but certainly our last visit of Trente. Avoid the place! There are wonderful alternatives in (Zappaz, ‘t Land aan de Overkant, l’Essenciel,…) and around (Arenberg, Couvert Couvert,…) Leuven!

    • Sven & Adriaan Apr 10, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      Dear Bart,

      Thanks for your feedback and sad to hear you had a bad experience. We really enjoyed our meal and had a great overall experience. The mussel was not overcooked and our meat was juicy, full of flavor and certainly not tasteless.

      There are indeed many great restaurants in and around Leuven and we’re happy about that ;-). On a fine-dining level, Trente and Essenciel are our favorites in the center of the city.

      Kind regards,

      Sven

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