L'épicerie du cirque

L'épicerie du cirque is situated in the hip area called 't Zuid in Antwerp. A vast choice of good bars and quality restaurants can be found in this neighbourhood so chef's need to prove what their worth here to keep customers satisfied.
The chef, Dennis Broeckx, and his team surely offer a high quality experience with their contemporary interpretation of French cuisine using freshest produce, high quality ingredients and uncommon products.
The welcome upon entering the restaurant was very friendly and casual. It's a young team but the service is like a well experienced team, smoothly and without error.

The interior design is clean, pure and with some surprising-humouristic-elements and made us feel at ease.

You can eat 'a la carte' or choose a 4- or 6-dishes menu giving you a nice interpratation of the chef's cuisine. We opted for the 6-dish menu at a more than reasonable price of 65€ without drinks.

Allready on the table was a bowl with a cream of cauliflower with chives and spices which tasted very good and rich with the 'pumpernickel'-style bread.

Cauliflower cream and bread
I had a Gin tonic, Sipsmith gin with Fevertree tonic as aperitif. A very smooth,easy gin. They have a nice combination of gin's to chose from.
Sipsmith Gin

We received 2 amuses, a flan of kale with a rosemary crumble and a spring roll with caramelized chicken. Both were good and promising for what was still to follow.
Kale flan
Spring roll

First dish was a combination of sardines-mi-cuit-, Maroccan carrots and  Rucola pesto spiced with cumin and some M'hamza handrolled couscous. The velvetty texture of the barely baked,fresh sardines was delicious and combined very well with the carrots and cumin. Great start of the menu for sure!
Sardines/Maroccan carrots/Cumin

Next we had pan seared scallops with braised endives, radicchio, mustard seeds and a jus of Geuze beer. A winning combination of sweet,sour and bitter.

Third dish was a pré-salé of cod wit chickpeas, a chickpeas broth, miso cream, leeks confit and ijskruid( Ice herb??). Again a very fresh quality fish in a tasty broth. The 'ijskruid' on top of the fish  was a very nice touch giving the dish a fresh,crisp texture.

We continued with a combination of an organic, soft-poached egg with braised veal cheeks, vadouvan and a cream of celery root. Very flavourfull composition but the overall texture of this dish was a bit the same, all creamy/fatty and not appreciated by all at our table. But still not bad at all, just a matter of personal taste.
After this dish we had our last main which was duck breast, beets in different structures, Sainte-Maure goat cheese, crispy fried polenta and herb sauce. 3 succulent pieces of sweet, medium-rare duck breast; savoury and rich goat cheese, the earthiness of the beets and the richness of the crispy polenta made this my favourite(together with the sardines) dish of the evening. I wouldn't have refused a second serving of this! Very nice composition, again!
Our experience ended with a fresh and light dessert, rhubarb with structures of citrus. I was happy to end with such a fresh dessert, not too heavy on the stomach after all these culinary treats.
Coffee was served with a nice dish of different, homemade mignardises.

We had an excellent experience here and highly recommend this resto to everyone. The chef is at the top of his game and shows he knows how to combine and prepare his dishes in a perfect way!

I'll end with the quote that was hanging on the wall of the restaurant and that caught our eye: 'We prefer the beauty of chaos over ugly perfection'. True words but I could only find -near-perfection in the dishes.



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