Restaurant Bartholomeus is creatively led by Head Chef and owner Bart Dismidt. Two Michelin stars, Gault Millau 18/20, 168 OAD Top 100+ European Restaurants 2017, Foodtaster 90/100 and great reviews from those who dine at this tranquil beach-front pearl make the trip to Restaurant Bartholomeus a very worthwhile and memorable one.
Chef Bart Desmidt and his wife Sandra opened their own restaurant when they were only twenty three years old. They took over Bart’s parents toy store and transformed it into a restaurant. With Bart in the kitchen and Sandra in front of house, they ran the place by themselves. Twenty something years later they have built the business into a highly sought after, very hard to get into establishment. I particularly love that they take care of themselves and their family by closing the restaurant three days a week. Something that is very rare in the hospitality industry.
Restaurant Bartholomeus is beautifully elegant, a softened monotone palette of greys with obvious attention to detail. Blinds all precisely drawn to the same length, tables arranged to allow privacy and space for each group of diners. Against the soft grey backdrop there were only a few splashes of colour. A stunning flower arrangement that sat between the main dining room and the kitchen providing a pretty foreground to the picture window that allowed us to see Bart at work. A large colourful abstract painting contrasted beautifully with the simple greys and for a bit of fun a giant red penguin stood proudly against a pillar in the room.
We were shown to what I think was the best table – in the corner in the front window overlooking the long seaside holiday resort beach. The beach was not the bright blue and yellow beach we see in Australia. It was a soft pretty grey.
Little white beach shacks sitting on soft creamy grey sand that led to a dark grey sea all beneath a painterly grey sky, puffs of wispy cloud seemed to have been washed across the sky with a watercolour brush.
The grey colour scheme of the restaurant worked so well, bringing the pretty beach scene in and making for a seamless transition of indoor to outdoors . We sat down into our very comfortable chairs, admiring the beautiful selection of glassware and silverware on the table.
Everything was perfect and I had a very good feeling that we were in for a real treat.
Today’s menu titled Terre et Mer – Earth and Sea immediately paints an exciting picture of what’s to come, the best that mother nature has provided us. We had a lovely selection of amuse bouches – a standout was a tube with ice cream made with goose liver. Such a wonderful clever dish.
The crisp toffee outside had a hint of sweetness. The creamy goose liver filling was pink and somehow sweet and savoury at the same time. The complexity of this little morsel was incredible.
Perfectly accompanied by a divine CHAMPAGNE Mailly Gr.Cru, Blanc de Noirs.
A beautiful deep round bowl is placed before us with what looked very much like a dessert. White snow in the bottom of the bowl held a pink sphere dusted with more white snow. Breaking into the sphere we were excited to find a Wagyu beef tartare.
Perfectly diced beef with the magical surprise of oysters beautifully seasoned with soy and lifted by the light bright lime snow.
Our next plate is so simple and yet so perfect. Langoustine simple clean sweet flesh accompanied by a selection of little fresh delicious tomatoes basil and a gorgeous little ball of burrata, smooth firm milky outer shell that spills a smooth creamy filling onto the plate when it is broken open. A perfect combination of flavours.
Another beautiful white bowl arrives with a delicate piece of Turbot topped with stunningly salty glossy beads of Royal Belgian Osietra Caviar. The bold flavours of fish and caviar are elegantly softened by a pretty creamy milk foam that brings such a light lift to each bite.
And a partridge in an apple tree! Partridge is a gamey meat dark and rich with a beautifully seasoned crispy skin. A fascinating combination of flavours from the bitterness of witlof, sweetness of apples and sour tartness of cranberries combines to be an absolutely perfectly balanced dish.
Our main courses have been very special, visually delicate softly structured plating belying the complexity of intricate flavours.
We have wandered leisurely through a beautiful lunch. It has not been rushed at all, a perfect pace. Outside the early light has softened even more to a soft slightly warm afternoon glow along the beach.
Our first dessert is a an exciting explosion of colour on the plate. Red berries chocolate jasmine and mint. Fresh vibrant and such a refreshing break. And then strawberries and almond, an elegant mostly white plate, an almost meringue creation simple sweet and pretty on the plate.
Chef Bart Desmidt’s food, while French and Belgian influenced has a very unique personality. Bart has found a way to express his own individual style in the language of his cooking.
I particularly enjoyed his ability to present the dishes in such a fun, visually creative way but without loosing the essence of the core ingredient. Whether it was seafood or meat it was clear what the hero of the dish was.
As our afternoon wraps up we watch the changing light over the beach. It has been such a stunning afternoon, more than I could ever have expected.
Happy and satisfied we take a very slow stroll along the beachfront and back on water to our next destination Bilbao, Spain.