Torgny is Belgium’s southernmost village. It is also called the Provence of Belgium, for exactly this reason. So, when we decided to have a look there, a restaurant, which held a Michelin * and 18p in the Gault Millau for a long time came into mind. This place had just been taken over by a young chef, who trained under Antoine Westermann and Guy Martin (both had 3* at the time).
The chef, Clement Petitjean, has chosen his location wisely. His restaurant is in an absolutely beautiful village, and on a day like the one we had, it could well be somewhere behind St Tropez (only with more flowers). The restaurant has a beautiful garden, in which one can have an aperitif and enjoy the sun.
The meal started on the stunning terrace with a little selection of amuses. These consisted of a fennel sphere, a shot glass filled with foie gras and some beans and an ice cream made out of tomatoes, served with a little marinated sea bream. The fennel sphere was decent if a little tasteless. The foie glass on the other hand, was very good. The tastes were strong, and the foam and beans added another dimension in both flavour and texture. The ice cream or sorbet with the fish was pleasant but too sweet. All in all, not too bad for a 1* restaurant.
Next up came a fennel crisp with a little house made barbeque sauce. This was nicely crunchy and a little smoky, due to the sauce. Good.
Parmesan bread was very good, but the butter had a bizarre taste. Not that it was bad, only somewhat unusual.
The last pre-meal snack was a courgette cream with a little snail. The presentation is a matter of taste, I found it to look quite ridiculous, but other people at the table didn’t share this feeling. Taste-wise, it could deliver. The courgette was very present and the snail very well prepared. Very good.
The first course was a tartar of lobster with agastache, a cromesquis of herbs and some lime sorbet. This was a very good dish indeed. The lobster wasn’t overcooked and had both good texture and taste. A cromesquis is normally a hot, crunchy croquette, but here, it was merely lukewarm and had lost any sign of crunchiness. The flavour was there, but without the temperature or texture it was rather forgettable. The sorbet and snow were very good, if mixed with the lobster tartar. Again, this was good for a 1*.
The following was a “signature” of the house. A combination of pig’s trotter, foie gras and sweetbread was served with the jus of braised veal shin and a few asparagus. The problem here was the dry sweetbread. One side was fine, whilst the other was completely overcooked. The foie was perfectly cooked, as were the asparagus (why place them in such a stupid fashion on the plate?). The pig’s trotter only featured in the crisp, which could have been made out of anything and the jus was more a tomato sauce than a veal jus. Mediocre, considering it was supposed to be a classic of the chef.
The fish course was much more successful. A piece of salmon was perfectly cooked and served with black radishes and some emulsion. This was a very fine piece of salmon, which was expertly cooked and accompanied by simple, yet effective garnishes. The kropoek provided the crunch, whilst the radish gave it a little spiciness and the emulsion some airy, light note. Very good.
As a main course we had an Anjou Pigeon served with prunes, crunchy cepes and a consommé of the pigeon’s heart and liver. The meat was cooked perfectly. Un peu moins que rose, as Francois Simon once said. It thus had great texture and tasted brilliantly. The crunchy cepes were useless, as they had absolutely no recognisable flavour, due to the thin shaving that they were. The prune puree was obviously on the rather sweet side of things but didn’t disturb, as the pigeon’s strong, robust flavour worked well with this little refreshing counterpoint. The accompanying consommé was very nice and had some good strength. Don’t ask me what the jelly was supposed to be, as I couldn’t really taste anything, nor did I ask. Very good.
The cheese cart here was very impressive for a rural 1* in the middle of nowhere. They all come from Robert Bedot, as well-known Affineur in Rocquebrune. I tried around seven and found all of them to be excellent.
Also served was a beetroot granite, marinated beetroot and goat’s cheese from the region. This was nice and proved to work well.
Pre-dessert was a bourbon vanilla crème brulee. It’s been a long time since I have been served a thing as simple as this, and it brings back tons of memories. Not bad at all.
The dessert itself was quite interesting. A few different chocolate preparations played with various confit (sweet) vegetables. Fennel, peas (the green crisp), carrots all worked astonishingly well with the dark chocolate. Not something I would want to eat everyday, but it was good in general.
Petit-fours were uninspiring and quite bad for most of them. The only good bite was the chocolate dome.
All in all, this was a pleasant evening, and was rather affordable (the menu we had was around 70euro). The food itself was good, without being really memorable. The chef can, if he wants go to 2* level, but that remains to be seen. I wouldn’t travel for this place but it definitely deserves that one star.