Top Belgian TV chef spins his culinary magic at new Brussels resto

Remember the days when, to put it bluntly, it was rather hard to trust the quality of food at some hotel restaurants?

Well, times have certainly changed and a great example of this is the Sofitel Brussels Europe hotel.

That’s not to say there was anything wrong here in the past but the fact is that the restaurant here, now called “The 1040”, has been a major makeover and the result is quite outstanding.

If you needed evidence of this consider this: an estimated 70 per cent of its clients do not, as you might imagine, stay at the hotel but are non-residents.

Usually, the reverse applies!

The fact that the vast majority of customers dining here are “walk-ins” is significant because it gives a flavour as to the quality of the food and also its terrific affordability.

This is all the more remarkable, to be honest, because the place has only been open since May.

Clearly, word about the restaurant’s attractiveness has spread very quickly and that is easy to understand if you sample some of the food crafted by the two men behind this success story.

One is Jean-Philippe Watteyne, a Mons-based chef, who gained celebrity status thanks to the reality TV show “Top Chef” and who is a familiar face to viewers of Belgium’s RTBF channel.

Having proved a hit in Mons, he took over here earlier in the year (his 3rd eatery)..

However, far from chasing after Michelin stars this down-to-earth virtuoso seeks simply to offer the best of Belgian brasserie cuisine: an affordable gourmet experience in a contemporary and newly refurbished setting.

The media-savvy Watteyne accepted the proposal made to him by the Accor Hotel group to create the menu and oversee the kitchen but, eing based in Mons, he is not behind the stoves every day since he is already a daily fixture at his restaurant iCook! (as well as le Bistro de Jean-Phi which is also runs in the centre of Mons).

Taking the lead from other “multi-restaurant” chefs, he has not only created the menu but fully immersed in the entire bar and restaurant renovation project, plus the selection and training of the kitchen/resto teams (the service here is as excellent as the food).

The team is headed up by another young culinary prodigy who, alongside Watteyne, looks set to make a name for himself on Brussels’ gourmet scene.

This talented chef is Mattéo Vannini, who has joined The 1040 after a 3-year stint as head chef of Da Mimmo, and after making a name for himself as a finalist of the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition for the Benelux in 2017.

Although Jean-Philippe may be the brains behind most of the menu, he has given plenty of scope to Matteo to add his own suggestions in the form of a €37, 3-course menu comprised of a selection of starters, mains and desserts.This comes alongside Belgian classics such as shrimp croquettes, filet américain and, of course, the requisite mussels and fries.

The produce and ingredients are usually Belgian sourced and the aromatic herbs and honey couldn’t be more local - they come from the vegetable garden and beehives perched on the hotel’s rooftop!

This very talented pairs of chefs are already working their magic on all the catering and banqueting offers served in the hotel’s meeting and seminar rooms (the kitchen also looks after room service for the hotel).

The restaurant, which has been totally redesigned and is a clever combination of the chic and intimate, can accommodate up to 90 guests. Adjacent to it is a modern bar area serving a fantastic array of drinks and cocktails and which makes for a great spot for a pre-dinner drink.

Something else that will be of particular interest to readers are the prices, which are remarkably affordable.

For example, a mains (beer tartar) start from just €19, one of a great choice of mains, including Ostend-style cod, veal birds, “revisited” vol-au-vent and Belgian style Limousin choice cut sirloin. There’s an equally nice selection of deserts and wines to round off a very satisfying dining experience.

Look out also for the newly launched brunch which is particularly great value for money.

In case you wondered about the name, the hotel is located on Place Jourdan in Etterbeek (which has recently been transformed into a pedestrianised square) and 1040 is a nod to the commune’s postcode.

The 1040

Place Jourdan, Brussels

02 235 5123

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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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