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25-03-2022

Brussels and its great chefs: discovering Belgian taste at Bon Bon di Christophe Hardiquest

The restaurant, two Michelin stars, enhances the culinary identity of the capital, giving a new take on tradition and connecting with small producers. But it will close down for good on the 30th of June, in view of new projects...

An emblem of Belgian cuisine, Brussels sprouts in

An emblem of Belgian cuisine, Brussels sprouts in the appetizer served at Bon Bon, the two-Michelin star restaurant of Christophe Hardiquest, the chef and patron who announced he will close for good on the 30th of June in view of new projects. In the dish in the photo, the Brussels sprouts end up in a mini crepe with pulled oxtail and smoked mustard. All the photos are from EquinoxLightPhoto

The culinary scene of Brussels is really lively, cosmopolite, fun, and stimulating. There are plenty of excellent brasseries, bistros, fine food shops, excellent breweries, chocolate shops and so on. And then there are some gems, like the one we told you about a while ago, restaurant Bozar with its marvellous pâtés en croûte, see Of tasty Brussels and of two sublime patés en croûte, tasted at Karen Torosyan's Bozar. And many more we'll tell you about later.

At the top of this tasty pyramid, there are at least four different restaurants dominating. They represent the diamond in the crown, the most famous restaurants, the point of reference. There's Christophe Hardiques's Bon Bon. David Martin's La Paix. And Lionel Rigolet's Comme chez Soi. And finally Yves Mattagne's La Villa Lorraine. The former three have two stars; the latter is a real institution already active in the 19th century, which also aims for two stars with its new chef, who conquered them already in his previous restaurant.

But let's go in order: we visited the former two and the latter. Here are our notes after visiting Hardiquest.

SEE ALSO:
Brussels and its great chef: the eclectic David Martin. Belgian cuisine with international products at La Paix
Of tasty Brussels and two sublime patés en croûte, enjoyed at Karen Torosyan's Bozar

Christophe Hardiquest was born in Wallonia in 1975, in the French-speaking part of the country but was but strongly influenced in the kitchen by his Flemish grandmother: hence he perfectly represents the deep soul of Belgian cuisine in general and of Brussels in particular; he's been working hard so that it's more acknowledged and understood, so that it can acquire a more precise identity. He works with small producers and excellent suppliers, with whom he studies new pairings between his ideas and theirs; you can find him at the brewery's or at the butcher's, selecting their finest products.

Hardiquest at work

Hardiquest at work

His recent announcement made lots of noise: restaurant Bon Bon, which received two Michelin stars in 2014, will close for good on the 30th of June. The following plans of the patron-chef are still not very clear: «After 20 years in the kitchen of my restaurant, 20 years of daily and personal investment, the time has come for me to give a significant change to my life and career. I'm so passionate about my job I won't ever stop cooking. I still don't know how, but the future will be full of surprises», he explained.

The dining room

The dining room

For sure, he's brave: at the beginning of his career, when he had just arrived in town, he would sleep in a Honda Civic, parked in front of the restaurant, because he couldn't afford accommodation. It was 2001 and he had opened Bon Bon with 2500 euros from his pocket...

The dishes
As we were saying, Hardiquest is the person who more than anyone else has been fighting to find a Belgian way to fine dining. «A few years ago, I started a journey of rediscovery of the territory and of history. It's become a sort of Belgian Odyssey. I thought it would be important to return to the origins, look at our roots, our terroir, and work hard to preserve this heritage for future generations. We've worked side by side with those who nourish the land, plant it, breed on it. This network of local producers has created the new Bon Bon ecosystem». The Bon Bon Journey menu (260 euros) is an expression of all this.

Mussels "à l'escargot". A dish that gives a new take on a recipe designed for Expo Bruxelles 1958

Mussels "à l'escargot". A dish that gives a new take on a recipe designed for Expo Bruxelles 1958

Prawns "Croquettes"

Prawns "Croquettes"

It's funny to start the dinner with some classic Brussels sprouts, to be cut from their plant, placed on the table and paired with some pulled oxtail and smoked mustard (excellent!), all this as the filling of a small crepe.

"Hure" of oyster from Zeeland "in green sauce"

"Hure" of oyster from Zeeland "in green sauce"

Chicons au gratin, haddock and parsley

Chicons au gratin, haddock and parsley

Cod Waterzooï, Jerusalem artichoke and sea urchins

Cod Waterzooï, Jerusalem artichoke and sea urchins

We continue with a "Hure" of oyster from Zeeland "with green sauce"; a contemporary version of Chicons au gratin ("endives au gratin", a traditional Belgian dish made with braised endive wrapped in ham and covered in Mornay sauce and grated cheese), in this case with haddock and parsley; and then Waterzooï of cod, Jerusalem artichoke and sea urchins (waterzooi is a typical Flemish dish. It's a sort of stew, or soup, usually made with fish, vegetables and different spices and creams); Flemish style Pork jowl, barley malt, mustard and carrot sauce; finally Waffle gelato, zabaglione made with roasted yeast, mushrooms and powdered coffee.


Bon Bon
Avenue de Tervueren 453 - Brussels
tel. +32 2 3466615
restaurant-bon-bon.be
Open from Tuesday to Friday, at lunchtime and in the evening
Tasting menus 245 and 260 euros


Carlo Mangio

An outdoor trip or a journey to the other side of the planet?
One thing is for sure: the destination is delicious, by Carlo Passera

by

Carlo Passera

journalist born in 1974, for many years he has covered politics, mostly, and food in his free time. Today he does exactly the opposite and this makes him very happy. As soon as he can, he dives into travels and good food. Identità Golose's editor in chief

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