The Poet – Fancy a quickie?

The Poet, Rue du Parnasse

Need to find somewhere for lunch near the European Parliament that’s reasonable, rapid and at the same time delicious? Catherine Feore has found it.

As someone from a land of poets, the first thing I ask myself about ‘The Poet’ is, “which one?” Apparently, ‘The’ Poet is a reference to the restaurant and after work cocktail/beer hangout itself, rather than a particular poet. It is on Rue du Parnasse and situated in the Renaissance Hotel – though it has a very separate identity. The Parnassian poets were a group of French poets who, according to Wikipedia: “strove for exact and faultless workmanship”.

“Ragon’s culinary journey draws inspiration from his family and culinary roots in France”

The reference to poetry may be a little tangential, but as for a French person striving for ‘exact and faultless workmanship’, let me introduce you to The Poet’s chef Jérôme Ragon. Ragon’s culinary journey draws inspiration from his family and culinary roots in France, specifically Nantes, and his extensive international experience where he has drawn on his experiences in Asia and Australia. There is a strong emphasis on locally produced seasonal ingredients and each dish feels freshly conceived while embedded in tradition. 

I went to The Poet to try their ‘Quick Lunch’, not to be confused with a lunch at Quick. Quite the opposite, the lunch was perfection. While the dishes were the product of excellent craftsmanship, there was an absence of the niminy-piminy showy-off tendency that one sometimes encounters with this level of cooking. This is just great tasting, nicely presented food. 

“Each dish feels freshly conceived while embedded in tradition”

The main course was cod cooked in a beautifully flavoured beurre blanc, with navette leaves – nothing is wasted! For me, this was heaven on a plate. Paul Bocuse often stated that butter was his favourite ingredient; who am I to disagree with the great chef. Ragon seems to agree, he says it’s inspired by his grandmother and the Breton love of butter. One of my pet hates is chefs who are mean with sauces, this was the perfect amount. The dessert was an ice cream with limoncello, it was served on a ‘chocolate soil’ – inspired by a recipe by Heston Blumenthal. 

The two-course menu is outstandingly good value at an amazing €25, I can’t think of anywhere else in Brussels where you would have this level of cooking at this price. I would add that this is a short walk from the European Parliament; it is difficult to impossible to find a restaurant of this calibre, at these prices, in the vicinity. As it is a set menu, the kitchen can deliver this exceptional meal, in a working-lunch time frame of 45 minutes. Frankly, it is perfect for a business lunch, but why limit yourself to a business luncheon – this place is great!

Just to show the lengths that Together is ready to go to for its readers, I also had one of their cocktails as an aperitif. Not something I would normally do at lunchtime, but I felt that I should test their cocktails since they have a dedicated mixologist. They have an extensive and interesting menu; I use my favourite cocktail – a Margarita – as a test; again, I can report that The Poet came up trumps.