A couple of months ago, I had the extraordinary opportunity of having lunch at one of the best restaurants in the world. I’m talking about Hertog Jan in Belgium – one of the country’s three Michelin restaurants with 3 stars. Foodie or not – here’s why you simply must add this place to your bucket list!
A genuine food experience
In a world where gourmet restaurants and Michelin stars take up more and more space in the daily newspaper columns, it’s time to reflect about what taste really is. What does it mean to you? Can you remember the last time you had a meal that almost made you cry from goodness? I can. The meal was consumed at ‘Hertog Jan’ located in the heart of Belgium’s picturesque countryside, and it’s adorned with not one or two, but three Michelin stars. However, that’s not why I came to love it in the first place, cause taste is highly individual and can’t be enforced by any food guide or critic.
With that in mind, I was excited to experience a 10 course lunch menu created by a kitchen, which has gained recognition all over the world. Hertog Jan is situated approximately 20 minutes from the historical town of Bruges and 1,5 hour from Brussels, but no matter where you’re headed (or located), a visit to this restaurant is mandatory. Restaurants with three Michelin stars are generally worth traveling for – and this place is no exception. But with a location in idyllic countryside settings 1,5 hours drive from Brussels and 20 minutes from Bruges, a car is needed if you’re planning to get here on your own. On the other hand, you can also make use of the tempting private limo service; a shiny red Jaguar.
Less is more
Hertog Jan is divided into two parts, which – in my opinion – is very typical for this place: a contemporary restaurant with plenty of light and a view to the garden, and a big, open kitchen installed inside an old barn. Old and new, tradition and innovation. Lunch and dinner is served on a daily basis – go for lunch if you can, and indulge in the beautiful surroundings in broad daylight. Hertog Jan is more than distinctive food; it’s an experience, which deserves attention from the minute you step inside till the minute you walk out again. The statement “less is more” definitely applies to the restaurant, who continuously create works of art with quality ingredients of local produce. Many ingredients (such as vegetables, fruits and flowers) are not just local, they’re grown right outside the windows in the colorful garden.
I’m not a food critic, but I do have the pleasure of dining at some of the world’s top gourmet restaurants. Still, there’s no doubt in my mind that Hertog Jan delivered the utmost amazing food experience I’ve had so far. The ‘Extensive Discovery’ menu, which we had, contains a selection of amuse-bouches, 5 starters, 1 main course, 2 desserts….and a hearty selection of sweets from the sweet trolley. The price for this treat? €255 (excluding drinks). One of the owners of Hertog Jan – and an awarded sommelier – Joachim Boudens – will guide you safely through the extensive wine selection, but if you’re not keen on wine, go straight for the heavenly juice menu!
Hertog Jan will continue to stay on top of my list for a very long time. Treat yourself to a day of culinary adventure, and don’t forget; “There is no love sincerer than the love of food” (George Bernard Shaw).
Hertog Jan is closed between July 12th – August 3rd. Open from Tuesday – Saturday, closed on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesday evenings. For more information, go to www.hertog-jan.com