Belgium restaurants: El Impasse del Sablon and La Villa Lorraine


In our regular Belgium restaurants pages we go Spanish and solid French cooking.

El Impasse del Sablon
Tucked away on Sablon’s Impasse Saint Jacques and surrounded by the luxury shops that make the reputation of this district located in the heart of Brussels, this gourmet restaurant takes you on a voyage through its typical Spanish cuisine. It was inaugurated by the famous starred chef Marcos Moràn, heir from father to son of the casa Gerardo, an Asturian restaurant that has been going strong for more than 135 years.

Carlos Mancheño, straddling the Channel between London and Brussels, is an exceptional Asturian chef and Moràn’s right hand man. On offer is unique produce such as red mullet (salmonete) or suckling lamb (cordero lechal) as well as dishes such as Brittany lobster in heart of tomato soup (Bogavante de Bretaña en sopa de corazones de tomate) a firm favourite for my wife, which will leave an indelible stamp on your taste buds as well as your eyes! The restaurant also offers two formulas, a 5-course for €75 and a 7-course for €90.

All this in a luxurious setting and a top-class welcome by the staff, who constantly catered to our every need. A shout out for to Jean-François, the Maître d’Hôtel and Rubèn our waiter. A big thank you to the Chef for the attention he gives to the customers as he tours the tables with a professionalism worthy of this establishment! Roberto Rodriguez Mier

La Villa Lorraine
This Brussels legend is on the very edge of the Bois de la Cambre but is still very much ‘in town’ in both a literal and metaphorical sense. This year it celebrates 65 years of high quality fine dining with a special celebratory menu at an attractive price. The first restaurant outside France to achieve a Michelin star, La Villa rose, in its heyday, to le cerise sur la gateau, the coveted third Michelin star. Family bereavements and an ownership change saw it stripped of all its stars, leaving some work to be done.

Happily, it’s hard to keep something so good down and over the past seven to eight years, they have fought back and rebuilt their well-deserved reputation with some solid classical French cooking with a few modernist nods and some flamboyant, yet restrained presentation.

The talent behind the stoves, Gary Kirchens is seamlessly paired with award-winning sommelier Antoine Lehebel who provides more than one ‘unusual bottle’ to match the subtlety and flavours of the food. If the first bite is indeed with the eye, the experience at la Villa is a feast before you even sit down.

The lunch menu comprises an apéritif, a three-course lunch with two glasses of wine, water and coffee. There are also little surprises in the shape of the amuses-bouches and the petits fours with coffee. All this in a Michelin-starred restaurant with impeccable service for €99. Treat yourself – but be quick. Colin Moors