From humble beginnings to the top of the culinary trade - that's "Mus"

Mustafa Duran is typical of many in Brussels.His parents come from Turkey but Mustafa was born in the commune of Schaerbeek.

His is a relatively modest background but one thing he’s never been afraid of is hard work. Indeed, Mustafa started work at the age of 16 and, now in his early 40s, he hasn’t stopped since.

After entering the horeca trade he was trained by top chefs and head waiters and previously managed a Michelin-starred restaurant.  The discipline he learned at an early age has clearly stood him in good stead. 

Indeed, such is his thirst for perfection that he has not stopped to perfect his culinary knowledge.

He is better known simply as Mus and that is the name of his restaurant, La Table de Mus, which he opened in 2015.

Sadly, though, it was not long before he – and other businesses in Brussels – faced a massive test. That was the lockdown that followed the March 2016 terrorist attacks on the city. Such was the impact of the adverse publicity that some places went to the wall while others suffered a terrible hit to their trade for months on end.

Not so Mustafa’s business which continued to thrive after the terrible events of three years ago.

Actually, given the particularly high quality of the cuisine at this intimate 40-seat restaurant the fact that it managed to buck such a trend shouldn't have come as a surprise.

This is sophisticated fine dining at best, as you'd expect really from someone who, like Mustafa, spent over 20 working in gastronomic, starred establishments before taking over the reins at his own place.

Worth bearing in mind that there's no a la carte but, rather, a selection of equally-wonderful five fixed menus, each with carefully chosen and matched delicious wines, mostly French and Italian.

The contents of each can vary but might include starters oyster-flavoured swordfish from Australia, served with a lemon cream from Japan and caviar.  A second starter might be sea bream served in a white wine with courgette and an aubergine platter.

These are from the so-called “Freedom Menu” which also comprises a mains of cod fish and, to finish, desert.

There are also a 5 course “Love Menu”; a 6 course “Tentation Menu” (the most popular) and a 7  course “Mus Menu”.

Like the food, an awful lot of care goes in to the presentation of each day, a work of art in itself, thanks in part to the attentive staff  but also, of course, the restaurant’s head chef Khaled Boughamidi, who hails from Algeria and has worked with Mustafa for years. Indeed, such is the importance of his right hand man, that Mustafa says, “As long as this restaurant exits, Khaled will be here.”

Their shared love of fresh, seasonal products is matched by a passion for good food and superb wine. Considering the quality, the prices are actually quite modest and certainly affordable.

Judging by the popularity of his new restaurant, the very welcoming Mus has clearly hit on a winner here.

He’s  proud to say that the place has been regularly fully booked (if you want a reservation on a Saturday, make sure you book well ahead) since it first opened.

That is reflected in the commendations he has received,including by Delta, the renowned Belgian restaurant guide. Trip Adviser allocated it a “certificate of excellence” while it most recently was ranked 14 out of 20 by Gault&Millau.

It counts ambassadors, politicians and lovers of gourmet food among its clients and, if you were in doubt about the influence Mus has here just look around you: some excellent portraits of him are displayed around the restaurant. They add to the unstuffy, casual nature of the interior which also affords diners a chance to see the tenacious and talented chefs at work from the open kitchen.

Mus currently looks after things “front of house” but says that the imminent recruitment of new staff will enable him to spend a bit more time in the kitchen, overseeing the plates before they are despatched to customers.

From the outside it looks relatively unexceptional. Once inside, though, you cannot but be impressed both by the quality of the food and service. This reflects enormously on its go-ahead owner.

One of the menu selections (each differently priced) is called "Passion" which very accurately sums up the approach Mus and his staff give to the art of good cooking. Recommended.

La Table de Mus

Place de la Vieille Halle aux Bles 31, Brussels

02 511 0586

www.latabledemus.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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