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Image 1: Sergio decided to closed down the restaurant at the end of 2013. This album is now for historical purpose only. The small historical town of Sluis is only just a short drive away from Brugge. As this was our second visit we knew exactly where we were going, and this time we knew that we were allowed to park our car on the narrow road by the entrance to the old town!
Image 2: The critical thing we forgot this time was that the parking area in front was not private for the restaurant's clientele, but rather a public parking lot and we were supposed to pay at the machine! We didn’t realise until we saw the parking ticket after our lunch!
Image 3: www.sergioherman.com Chef: Sergio Herman
Father & Son: €210 (8-course) Feeling & Taste: €150 (4-course)
Open lunch and dinner. Closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday lunch.
Image 4: We weren't that late but the kitchen was already running at full speed and all tables were occupied other than our table for two. Interestingly, they provided a pencil and a blank booklet to every guest allowing them to take notes of the dining experience.
Image 5: To get the show started, Sergio initiated the 4-hour epic meal by getting us to lick on a thin piece of wooden plaque which had tiny mushrooms resting on a bed of tofu paste along with yuzu balls and wakame. A little bit of texture; a little bit of acidity; it was a very unique opening. Definitely set the tone for an adevnturous meal!
Image 6: Salted butter and seaweed butter
Image 7: This was just the beginning of a series of amuse bouche! A long plate which consisted of cucumber, white radish, and a weird looking root vegetable. I liked the exotic flavour from the cream of bumbu, an Indonesian spice mixture.
Image 8: We loved the seafood here last time and were excited to see this scallop tartare served on its shell with a touch of mandarin. Fresh scallop, fruity mandarin, and a slight crunchiness from the kamut on top - it certainly lived up to our expectations!
Image 9: Flavours from Catalonia - a small bowl of fideuà noodle with shrimp, ham, squid, and red pepper. Odd to have a relatively simple dish, but it was delicious!
Image 10: More treats, and I was certainly not complaining! A cup of black pudding covered in celeriac foam with sweet onion, beetroot, and a cute lego block of green apple sorbet!
Image 11: They really pampered us with lots of little surprises. A mini pot contained braised oxtail, a soft poached yolk, sage cream, chicory, and hanging across was a focaccia stick topped with artichoke cream and wild mushroom. Very tasty but a perhaps a bit too filling for amuse bouche?
Image 12: One more treat, served on a round piece of paper, before the actual tasting menu.
Image 13: Marinated Atlantic cod guarded by pickled vegetables with mussels underneath. The mussel shell was filled with bergamot ice which served as a palate cleanser before the first course. Great idea to cleanse the tongue after such an elaborate opening scene! Very thoughtful!
Image 14: It seemed like we already had a full tasting experience but this eye appealing "ocean full of shrimp" was only the first course! Even the plate had an ocean theme!
Image 15: A collection of peeled shrimp, fried shrimp, crab jelly, scallop and our server emphasized that everything on the plate was edible! Very light as the focus was the fresh shrimps and scallops. Everything on the plate was lovely but maybe too much flowers and leaves for one dish.
Image 16: In contrast, this cup of bisque was packed with an intense shellfish flavour and the real prawn cracker on the side had a crunchy shell! Brilliant!
Image 17: There were two preparations of scallops. This gorgeous masterpiece was a result from a collaboration work with a local artist.
Image 18: The golden necklace was made from chicken stock jello. The scallops were beautifully cooked with the natural seasoning from the caviar and a hint of sweetness from the Jerusalem artichoke purée and hazelnut. Superb for the eyes, and even better for the palate!
Image 19: The second serving of scallops had an aroma coming from the roasted pine branches underneath the shell. This jumbo scallop was of a decent size with a moist centre but the chorizo, parsley root, wild mushroom, and a lingering smoky flavour were altogether distracting the elegant flavour of the scallop!
Image 20: Similar to the scallop course, the oysters also had two servings. Very creative serviceware! The top layer was a cooked oyster on its shell; however, it was completely smothered with a concentrated miso-lime sauce which resembled Thousand Island dressing. What was the point of using such high quality produce when all you could taste was the sauce?
Image 21: Accompanied by spinach pancake and various winter herbs. Amazing presentation, but didn't add much to the course.
Image 22: The second oyster serving was smoked oyster covered with black truffles, but unfortunately it was totally overpowered by the burning smell from the smoke underneath. What a waste of black truffles! The oyster was completely lost in both courses.
Image 23: For the fish course, the arrangement of winter vegetables was very delectable but it was a shame that the turbot itself was a bit bland…
Image 24: I was glad that the langoustine was precisely cooked with a juicy centre, and the citrus lemon mousse was not only able to complement the seafood but also liven up the whole dish.
Image 25: The plate for our main course arrived. As we were explained, it represented a pasture with barriers, the living environment of the cows!
Image 26: And here came the Flemish cows, chargrilled with rosemary burning below!
Image 27: The server instructed us to "bring the cow back to their pasture" before eating! I appreciated the idea and I quickly realised that the beef was indeed incredible, tender with a good flavour, but the shinny "barrier" gelatine was more for the theme than for the palate.
Image 28: And to wrap up the main course, placed on a bone was beef tartare and bone marrow.
Image 29: Our first dessert arrived - "Stone" with barley malt! Two chocolate stones of different textures - one was hard with a sponge cake bottom and the other was soft like gel; together with a hazelnut crisp and broken pieces of kaffir lime ice. Not overly sweet and I certainly enjoyed the textural contrast!
Image 30: Then an apple made with liquorice paste decorated with Cabernet Sauvignon jelly. Underneath the rose candy floss were almond cake, mini apple tart and sorbet. Amazing how the whole dessert was in harmony - the fruitiness from apple, the sweetness from almond, and the slight bitterness from liquorice with a hint of vanilla. A wonderful dessert!
Image 31: The final dessert was a combination of gel, jello, mousse, cream, crisp and macaron of berries, beetroot, and rice. Again, a great mix of textures. A very fruity finish to our meal!.
Image 32: The meal started off with a long series of amuse bouches; and as expected, ended with a long array of petits fours.
Image 33: The first was a "skull" encased with a cream of sakura (cherry blossom), coffee and citrus.
Image 34: A miniature of coffee ganache, chocolate disk, kaffir lime cream, and melon balls!
Image 35: Almond ice cream garnished with flower
Image 36: And more - a medallion of herb and ginger!
Image 37: Passion fruit mousse and tapioca, basil ice cream, and yogurt disk
Image 38: A cup of berries - fresh, sorbet, and crisp
Image 39: And this was really "The Final Touch", made with lime and hazelnut cream, to conclude an extravagant set of petits fours. A quick tally - we had seven amuse bouches, then seven courses, followed by seven petits fours!
Image 40: No doubt Sergio delivered a complex meal showcasing his artistic skills on every single plate. Certainly a much more extensive and sophisticated cuisine than five years ago, however, I was disappointed by the use of powerful sauces and smoke masking the high quality ingredients on a few occasions...
Image 41: … and disappointed by our €80 parking fine on top of a pricy lunch bill!