The other night my parents invited me and the boyfriend to go out for dinner. Apparently, their date had cancelled last minute and we were the honoured second choice.
And was I delighted to be their first second choice! It wasn’t just any dinner in any restaurant. We went to the Voltaire in Heverlee because the restaurant was celebrating its 20th birthday. And for this joyful occasion, the chef had invited famous Belgian television chef (think the Flemish equivalent of Jamie Oliver) Jeroen Meus. As he told us later on the evening himself (the good man made time to have a chat with everyone in the restaurant), he used to be a kitchen hand in this restaurant many years ago before his career took off. And now he had helped put together the menu for this wonderful evening.
We started off with some pre-dinner drinks. The gang ordered a variety of different gin tonics, for me a cava as I simply do not like gin tonic and will not give in to the hype even though it does look awesome in the big glasses with the funky stuff in it. As an appetiser, we got ham with tuna. Say what now, I hear you say. Yes indeed, ham with a tuna sauce, as delicious as it sounds surprising.
But this evening had more on offer than yummy food and casual chats with a famous person. We went for the menu with the wine tasting. This meant that before the starter and before the main, the waiter would poor us three tastings of white, then red, and let us do a blind tasting. Now, both me and the boyfriend do not know much about wine, but we do know the kind of wines we like more than others. All wines were always very distinct and even though all of them were tasty, it was fairly easy to pick the one you wanted. The waiter would then come back to the table and explain a little bit about the wines. Where they were from, the kind of grape, the kind of dirt they grew in (apparently you can taste the minerals in the dirt in some of the wines), and what kind of food they would accompany well. And all of it smoothly in English as well, so the boyfriend could follow! I was well impressed.
Turns out I like my white wines quite “mineral” and my reds with a lot of tannins. My favourite red in the supermarket in the section of affordable wines, is an Australian Shiraz. The red I went for, was a blend of different grapes, including the Syrah grape, as the Shiraz is called in Europe. I was quite proud of myself that I could actually tell the difference between the wines and obviously know my kind of wine. I consider it my first step to become a snobby wine specialist. Hooray.
For starters, I decided to go for the salmon, a mix of smoked and raw. I am sure “raw” would not be the correct culinary term as it sounds a bit untasty, but it was tasty I can assure you. The only downside was that, since the two kinds of salmon were mixed up on the plate, the smoked salmon flavour massively predominated and it felt like a bit of a waste of the lovely fresh uncooked salmon. It came with a tzatziki and some fresh green apple, brilliant idea!
For mains, I had a hard time deciding. I wasn’t really in the mood for fish, and I am always to scared to order a steak as I secretly like mine well-done, and having worked in a kitchen myself, I know that chefs go berserk if anyone orders a steak well-done because it is a waste of the good quality meat. So I went for the duck. A slow cooked duck leg with veggies and spuds. And this is where I tell you what heaven tastes like. My goodness, that was the best duck I had ever eaten. The meat just fell of the bone, and I ate every last string of it. It was deliciously stringy, like the meat you get in stews, but so juicy at the same time! And the sauce, I don’t know what it was, but it was so perfect for the dish! The taste was subtle, so as not to ruin the delicious duck flavour but to add just that little bit more deliciousness. I was a happy bunny.
For dessert, I picked the mascarpone with white chocolate and cherries. I wasn’t a big fan of the cherries, but I guess that’s just my own taste, since I have never really liked cherries. I merely ordered it for the white chocolate to be honest. It also came with some berries (raspberries, blackberries,…) and I am more than a big fan of those. But of course raspberry season is already over, and the raspberries weren’t the tastiest I had ever had. But now I’m just nitpicking.
The evening was truly wonderful. Just the other week I mentioned to the boyfriend how I would like to see my parents more often, so of course we had loads to talk about. The restaurant has a really nice lay-out as well, it was a joy to look around. It was a spacious room out of a dark wood, with some hunting-themed decorations. The lighting was perfect, bright enough to inspect the food meticulously but dark enough for a super cosy atmosphere. We were sat in a quiet corner by the window and taken care of excellently by the waiter. By the end of the night, we wobbled down the stairs wonderfully satisfied and ready for bed. Evening at the Voltaire: successful!