Brighton comes to Brussels at this top class eatery

If you appreciate high standard cuisine that also pays more than a nodding acquaintance to its nutritional value then look no further than this lovely restaurant.

Part of the Stanhope Hotel and located close to the European parliament, the restaurant has attracted bucket loads of celebrities and top politicians over the years,  including French comedian Fabrice Luchini and leading royalty such as Albert II,the Prince of Monaco (and entourage).

Other guests from the world of showbiz include American crooner Barry White and actor Ewan McGregor.

After a year-long refurb, it first opened back in 1991 when the hotel was much smaller than today.

The inspiration for the pleasant décor came via Lady Joan Stafford, an English interior designer, and is “modelled” on the Brighton Pavilion in England which she also helped to design (hence the name of the restaurant).

The hotel itself has a very interesting story: it was a farm originally (two stable doors are still visible from the terrace) and later became later a nuns’ convent.

The same family used to live in the three houses on which the hotel now stands.

A Jewish family from Antwerp bought the business and, finally, it was turned into the first five star hotel of Belgium.

The delicious gastronomic food served here is lovingly prepared by French-born head chef Laurent Gauze, who has been in Belgium for 15 years, the last ten here.

Laurent, from Perpignan, tries to source his ingredients from local producers, where possible, and always uses only the freshest and most seasonal of products in his cooking.

This shows in the absolutely fabulous food served here, as is evidenced by the latest a la carte.

Starter specialities include a carpaccio of confit monkfish with clams and baked foie gras and langoustine served with pumpkin cream and walnut oil.

There is an equally delightful choice on the mains list, including saddle of young rabbit with chestnut and sweetbreads, pork rib “Duroc olive rouge”, cooked at slow temperature and served with lacquered sauce with rosemary. Another recommendation, this time from the fish selection, is “Tataki” red tuna, wrapped in sesame coulis of peas.

There’s also a weekly menu, available from Monday to Friday at lunchtime and evenings. This is a 3 course offering and, currently, features beef tartare, monkfish medallion, lamb, and a desert.

Considering the top quality it is a very reasonable €37 for 2 courses or €43 for 3.

This menu, which is refreshed every week, is particularly popular at lunchtime with the a la carte being an evening favourite.

Just as impressive as the food, the exceptional wine list is also regularly rotated, with expert and knowledgeable guidance happily offered by maitre d’hotel, Eric Di Giorgio.

The restaurant also serves biodynamic wines which are wines made employing biodynamic methods both to grow the fruit and during the post-harvest processing.

The very welcoming Eric is a real mainstay here, having first started some 20 years ago and worked his way through several different positions to his current role.

In an industry known for its high staff turnover, two decades at the same place is quite a record and Eric is a font of knowledge, not least about the fascinating history of both the hotel and restaurant.

Originally from Italy, Eric provides a lovely greeting for guests (whether showbiz stars or ordinary members of the public) and expertly guides one through the card.   

He will also happily inform you of the rather special device used here to keep the wines as fresh as possible and for longer.

It is called coravin and, essentially, it allows you to pour wine without removing the cork from the bottle.

The restaurant, split into two halves, can seat about 50. There are also several rooms for private dinners.

It’s very uncluttered and the informative but unobtrusive service more than matches the refined cuisine.If you dine here in the summer or spring, why not do so in the delightful garden, dominated by a 100-year-old magnolia tree.

The hotel is part of the Norwegian-owned Thon Group which prides itself on its green credentials. This is one of five Thon hotels in Brussels and, with about 1,500 guests rooms, it offers the biggest choice in the city.

But, of course, you do not have to stay at the hotel to enjoy this restaurant which has remained relatively unchanged over the years as the hotel has steadily grown.

The food here is superb and, surely, it must be the only restaurant in Belgium which is modelled on an English landmark - and also named after it!

Restaurant Brighton

Rue du Commerce 9, Brussels

02 506 9035

www.thonhotels.com/stanhope

brighton@stanhope.be

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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