For the past few years I had been wanting to make a trip out to Dranouter, Belgium to see what’s going on at the restaurant In de Wulf. It consistently seemed that whenever I had some time free to travel, the restaurant was having a closure. Earlier this year when I found out I had vacation in July, the first thing I did was check the schedule on their website, then I booked a table(and a room) to see what Chef Kobe Desramaults is cooking up in Heuvelland.
After a remarkable meal the night before, followed by a perfect day of sightseeing and taking in the history of Ghent, Rocky and I hit the road and arrived for dinner with high hopes(as this was the meal our whole trip was planned around). We settled in our room and relaxed for just a moment before taking a seat on the restaurant’s patio.
After chatting briefly about the menu, we ordered up a bottle of Jerome Prevost’s 2008 La Closerie fac-simile rosé(effing amazing) and got the party started. The first few small bites were served outside.
Porkskin. Crisp and super light. With mustard powder and mustard mayonnaise.
Crispy potato. A nest of wound up fried potato strings with smoked potato mousse. One of Rocky’s favorite bites of the trip.
We moved into the dining room and made ourselves comfortable at a spacious wood table.
Whelks. Meaty, oceanic tasting whelks from the North Sea accompanied by a tangy bay leaf white wine vinaigrette.
Mackerel, mugwort. Cold fillets of mackerel cured and smoked with mugwort and topped with fermented beef miso.
Radish, egg yolk. A nice yolk poached in the shell and dressed with radish flowers, powder, and sauce.
Sourdough baked in an outside brick oven around the back of the restaurant. Accompanied by butter, salt, and rapeseed oil.
North sea sepia. Cool ‘noodles’ of sepia dressed in a sauce of the head with some cucumber flowers. Served in a bowl made of ice with the ink from the fish that slowly melted and combined with the noodles. A good expression of the animal.
Dogfish, kohlrabi, rhubarb. A dense piece of dogfish sandwiched with some really nice kohlrabi, stringy acidic rhubarb, and sourdough toast.
North sea crab, carrots, lemon thyme, carrot flower. The dual sweetness of the picked crab with the carrot was outstanding, as was the crunchy snap of the carrots against the supple meat. The lemon thyme lent a nice herbal lift.
Broad bean, goat cheese of Uxem, verbena. Broad beans accompanied by some perfect peas in frothed goat cheese.
Lobster of Audresselles. Rich, sweet claw and tail meat in a bisque made from the head of the lobster. Tremendously delicious.
Snails of Comines, fat-hen. Tasty snails heavily dressed in a gremolata-ish condiment. Along with the snails, some members of the goosefoot family. Quinoa based mix wrapped in a fat-hen leaf.
Cauliflower, whey-mussel sauce. Stunning, multi-textured dehydrated cauliflower with a foam of mussels and whey along with what I gathered to be some type of toasted miso bread crumbs. The distinct mollusk taste of the foam was a terrific match with the concentrated cauliflower flavor.
Roasted turbot and onion. A cut of turbot with a sauce from the bones of the fish and young fennel. Along with a great Flemish winter onion. For me, the weakest plate of the meal. Rocky gave up on hers after pulling a succession of bones from her mouth.
Flax seed tart and pig brain. A light, crisp flax seed tart with a rich gelee of pig brain topped with carrot flowers. Appropriately served on a pig skull.
Lamb, roasted gherkin. Super tender Dutch lamb with a stuffed roasted gherkin and some lamb jus.
Flamiche Vieux Lille. A traditional Flemish cheese tart.
Beetroot/ Sloeberry. Lightly crisp beet pastries filled with chocolate ganache.
Meadowsweet, yoghurt, honey and cherry. Meadowsweet ice cream, yoghurt parfait, cherries, and local meadowsweet honey. Sweet and floral. Beautifully restrained and balanced.
Pineapple weed, young cucumber. Pineapple weed ice cream inside a chamomile meringue covered with slices of cucumber compressed with lemon verbena. Marvelously light and herbaceous.
Wild strawberry, fresh cheese, poppy. Gorgeous young strawberries from a local farm with creamy fresh cheese, poppy petals, and a sauce of strawberry, rose and verbena. Such a delight.
We ordered a bottle of Dominique Moreau’s Marie-Courtin Efflorescence to have with desserts and finish in our room after dinner. Lovely bubbles.
And here’s what we had for breakfast the next morning, served on the back porch. F*cking bad ass:
Dinner at In de Wulf is easily my favorite meal I’ve had this year. By far one of the coolest places I have ever been. Truly one of the most special and poetic dining experiences in the world. Rocky and I were sad to leave, but really excited to return for lunch a few days later.
Date of meal: July 3, 2014
In de Wulf. Wulvestraat 1. Dranouter, Belgium +32 57 44 55 67 www.indewulf.be