Coeur d'artichaut - Gent

Is there a better way to start the weekend than being invited by a restaurant owner and his head chef to try out the new concept of resto Coeur d'Artichaut with other foodbloggers? Yes, probably but this comes close!

Restaurant Coeur d'Artichaut has been  active in Ghent since 1992 starting as a bistro with a focus on healthy food and later transforming into a gastronomic venue. 

And now owner and horeca-entrepreneur Eric de Wagenaere felt the time was there to follow another culinary path, the bistronomic way. 
A more open interpretation of the high-end cuisine and accesible for all.

Chef Tom Van Lysebettens was given the challenge to put together a menu for 13 critical and hungry foodbloggers. 

He made a menu with 4 different starters, a fix second, 4 different mains and 3 different desserts thus giving us the opportunity to sample the cuisine he's offering. With an history in 'Ter Duinen' and experience at 'Het gebaar', 'Volta' en 'C-jean' I knew he had some skills and he didn't dissapoint me.

Cuttlefish/Cucumber/Puffed rice/Dill was the starter I first tasted and I found it to be very refreshing and tastefull. The combination of the dill, cucumber and some grapefruit worked ,though a bit more acidity could have taken this dish to another level!

Another starter was Fresh goatcheese/Smoked red beet/young sprouts. Goatcheese clearly is a trend lately, I had it served allready a couple of times in the last weeks. I actually didn't taste this dish but I heared it was also a nice combo. Only the serving of goatcheese was a bit big  it seemed and quickly overpowered the palate. For goatcheese lovers!

Chicken rilette/Taragon/Tomato confit. We all know that chicken and taragon are a match made in heaven and this interpretation was also very good. A nice combination of textures, soft and crunchy. A rich rilette and tangy tomatoe confit cream. Nice
Pork cheeck/Pomme Pont-Neuf/Picles mayo. This was served between our entrées and mains. A braised pork cheeck, pulled apart and pressed into a rectangular shape and then baked crispy. Served with crisy pommes pont-neuf and a pickled mayonaise. Delicious!! Strong, intense flavour in the cheeks and a fresh,tart mayo to balance it out! Very nice!!

Oysters Grevelingen/Horse radish/Chervil. I didn't taste these. Somehow I wasn't in an oyster mood and to be honest I prefer my oysters clean and simple with nothing on it except maybe some pepper and a squeeze of lemon. My neighbour however told me they were great.
Cuckoo from Mechelen/Tomatoe tartlet/Greek yoghurt. Opinions were a bit divided on this one. All tastes were good but the combination lacked a bit structure, didn't blend well together. The poultry was fresh and of  good quality but the cuison was a bit on the edge, could have used a tad more heat. The tartlet wasn't necesary and another ingredient could have given this dish more value, perhaps some turnips?

Halibut/Curry cream/Fungus/Sea lavender. A nice piece of firm fish, cooked to perfection with earthy mushrooms/fungi, a salty sea lavender and a curry cream. Good but the curry overpowered the whole dish. Good effort though!

North Atlantic Cod/Cream of Oud-Brugge cheese/Tomatoe&Basil/ Cockle clams. My absolute favourite dish of the evening. Yet again a firm, flakey piece of fish served on a sweet cream of Oud-Brugge cheese and paired with the tanginess of the tomatoe and basil puffs/cream. The cockle clams added a briny taste and completed this dish! Spot on for me!
White asparagus/Cream of egg yolk/Hazelnut crumble/M'Hamza couscous. I'm not often tempted by a vegetarian dish but this was amazing. Al dente cooked asparagus, rich creamy yolk and hazelnut crumble and couscous. Nice combination and also showing that the chef knows his techniques.
Tartine Russe. First dessert and a miss unfortunately. Like someone at our table said 'You get this served, you expect to taste something refreshing and you get heavy and creamy'. Indeed the crème-au-beurre like cream was too heavy and made the whole dish a hard to eat composition. This should be lighter and fresher.
Milk chocolate tart/Speculoos/Passion fruit. This dessert was better. The milk chocolate tart was rich and dense and dusted with speculoos but the cream of passion fruit gave this dish the needed freshness/lightness. Good!
Tainori ganache/Blackberries/Quark. A deep rich taste of origine chocolate paired with some blackberries and fresh quark cheese. Nice combo.

I had a wonderfull dinner in company of colleague foodbloggers. All flavours were good and the dishes were all presented/composed according to the actual high standards but I felt that chef Tom Van Lysebettens is still a bit strugling with some dishes. These are just minor details and some dishes were truely spot on but some needed a bit more work/focus. 
Still the quality is allready at a high level and I'm sure that he will keep working to reach even higher so really don't hesitate to have lunch or dinner here when you're in Gent, you won't be dissapointed.

Thanks to Pieter Declercq and Caroline Dhondt for the beauifull pictures and Kristof Verheyden for keeping me company during our 2-hour drive to Gent trough trafic inferno!
And a big thanks to Edward Vanhoutte for setting this up and to Eric De Waegenaere and Tom Van Lysebettens for having us.

Be sure to check out the blogs of the other food bloggers: