Friday, February 27, 2009

Yum Yum chez Bon-Bon

You don't need me to tell you how good Bon-Bon is. Putting aside it's Michelin star, every review seems to be downright orgasmic when they start in on Bon-Bon's fresh market menu. But they have yet to answer the burning question: can they do vegetarian?

Gidon and I were celebrating the last of our anniversaries (huh? see here - click on "Two weddings?") and decided to splash out with a dinner at Bon-Bon. After all, we'd heard so much about it and thought it was worth the risk. Also, it's right in our neighborhood and we pass it all the time, and what's a better way to tempt someone than that?

We called ahead of time and they said they could do vegetarian, no problem. When we confirmed the reservation, they wanted the full run-down of what we do and do not eat. This was way more interest than any Belgian restaurant has ever taken in my diet before. After a lengthy explanation (yes to cheese and tuna, no to turbot, please don't ask me why) we were warned that they do either a 3-, 5-, or 7-course dinner, and 7 courses was going to be a bit difficult under the circumstances. We could decide between 3 and 5 that night. Fair 'nuff.

The restaurant itself is small, lots of wood panelling, and a nice mix of old styles with modern touches. We started with a creamy mozzarella and fresh tomato amuse bouche. Simple but elegant. We also got started on their tasty, crusty bread with salty butter that was a lovely accompaniment throughout the evening.

They showed us the menu of the evening (other than the 3/5/7 bit, diners are not given a choice), even though we wouldn't be seeing a great deal of it. For the meat-eaters out there, it sure looked tasty on the page - and at the table next to us, where we watched them work their way through the 7 courses with much pleasure and appreciation. We opted for 3 courses.

For our starter, we had a fresh tuna tartare with a herb sorbet. A refreshing kickoff - and one that we shared with the rest of the restaurant. Our main dish was a vegetarian concoction: celeriac raviolis; cooked bok choy; a crispy latke - I mean, potato pancake; and a few other veg, all accompanied by a bearnaise sauce that I enjoyed but Gidon might have preferred a few other flavors along with it.

At this point, I did have a moment of panic in my head: although the food had been delicious, the portions were small small small, and I thought "we're going to head home, having spent a decent amount for this fancy meal, and I'm going to have to make dinner!" Fortunately, my freaking out (as usual) was premature. For one, those small portions are served slowly and are more filling than you expect. For two, we weren't even halfway through the meal yet.

We were offered the cheese course, and you don't need to sell me on cheese. This was an add-on to our 3-course menu but well worth it. They wheeled out an exquisite selection of about 20 French and Belgian cheeses, which our waitress described so quickly, I could barely process it. Overwhelmed and mouths watering, Gidon and I asked her to just make up a selection of her choosing - 8 different cheeses in total. We were both blown away by the first, which I described (in a good way, I swear!) as tasting "like a farm." It was a strong, earthy flavor that was just terrific. We followed it up with chevre, blue cheeses and others, but although all were delicious, that was the most memorable. Now if I could only remember what it was called...

They asked if we wanted dessert or would move straight on to coffee. 20/20 hindsight: we should have gone to the coffee, which is accompanied by a small selection of four 1-to-2-bite delicacies. But in the interest of research, or because it was our anniversary, or whatever excuse you want to insert here, we said, "dessert, please!"

The waiter said: "Your first dessert will be fresh pink grapefruit with lychee and rose sorbet" but I have to admit I kind of tuned out at the word "first." A scrumptious combo although a bit too sweet for Gidon. This was followed by Dessert, Part Two: essentially some frozen yogurt (plain, i.e. yogurt, flavor) and lait d'amande ice cream. Both were lovely although I'm more of a fruit-for-dessert person myself. Also around the second dessert was when I started announcing that I was going to "explode," which was promptly followed by the arrival of the coffee with its accompanying set of desserts. My, my.

When the bill arrived, it was obviously nothing to sneeze at. But we had had a special, if somewhat restricted meal, and certainly an anniversary to remember.

Bon-Bon: salon d’artisan cuisinier
Rue des Carmélites, 93
1180 Uccle
Closed Saturday lunch and Sundays.
Tel: +32 (0)2 346.66.15

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