Considering Belgium is a very small country, it has a very long list of Michelin starred restaurants. In Brussels I was lucky enough to get the chance to experience a very special eatery, concealed within Mercedes House, the posh car showroom. The unlikely location and layout of this venue makes the inventive food and inspired wine choices all the more surprising and exciting.
WY Brussels is the newest project from star chef Bart De Pooter. The showroom is situated at the Sablon in the heart of Brussels, surrounded by top chocolatiers. The Mercedes brand is sleek and elegant and this eatery evokes that classic style. The room is designed by Belgian designer Franky Claeys; the simple modern décor has a red and black theme that makes the dining room feel masculine but glamorous, matching the refined virtuosic cuisine of De Pooter.
The kitchen focusses on dishes that use regional and ecologically sourced produce, the plates created are vibrant and original. For guests who enjoy the drama of the kitchen there are cameras installed so you can watch the show from the comfort of your table. The atmosphere is relaxed and we found the staff to be incredibly friendly and thoughtful.
We were treated to some of the WY specialities. Following a glass of exceptionally fizzy Bollinger, we received some delicious miniature mouthfuls: savoury onion and date canele cakes, and rosemary coquettes. Next came a shot of smooth and sweet pumpkin soup with quinoa seeds and freshly baked bread.
The first course was spectacular, Bacon and slow cooked cabbage. The green and pink ingredients were assembled attractively across the plate, a brilliantly modest but very tasty dish. The thick bacon was salty and sweet paired with charred cabbage, fresh greenery and kale crisps. Our waiter brought us glasses of Chardonnay from North Italy, a fresh wine with a buttery rounded taste.
After a short break a glass container was brought grandly to the table – the waitress, with a cheeky smile, lifted the lid to allow a puff of rosemary smoke to escape. The finished dish soon arrived, Rosemary smoked duck liver with béarnaise sauce and parsnip presented in three ways. The mixture of flavours may sound strange, but the smooth luxurious liver with the sweet fresh parsnip and creamy sauce actually worked surprisingly well. The smokiness miraculously infused the food, an unusual and strong flavour. I found the course size a little overwhelming, but my companion certainly didn’t complain as he scraped up the final drop of sauce.
We had spotted a few steaks passing us by, and we hoped we were next in line for a hunk of appetising meat. A little while later we were presented with plates of Tenderloin steak with aubergine and goat’s cheese. The steak was a smooth but thick cut of meat, a breed called Holstein from Northern Holland, it is one of the oldest breeds in Europe. Again the inventive pairing surprised and delighted us. I was pleased to have a vegetable accompaniment to the opulent meat. The aubergine had an almost nutty flavour, contrasted with the cheese sauce.
Dessert was thankfully light: a complex construction of pineapple, coconut, caramel and pina colada. The dish had been carefully balanced with the sweetness, tangy fruitiness and a touch of spice with a crystallised jalapeno pepper. We were full but not too full for a warm mini madeleine, the best way to end a meal.
A hidden treasure in the heart of Brussels, WY is for foodies who appreciate a dining experience that is a little unconventional.
More information and book a table here.
Thoroughly Modern Milly travelled with Eurostar.
· Eurostar operates up to 9 daily services from London St Pancras International to Brussels with return fares from £69.
· Tickets to any Belgium station start from £79.
· Fastest London-Brussels journey time is 2 hours.
· Tickets are available from eurostar.com or 03432 186 186.