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Hof van Cleve Reviews

Located in Flanders, near the Dutch border with Belgium, Hof van Cleve is located in an ancient farmhouse. The closest city is Ghent, which serves as the setting for the story. The chef Peter Goossens began working at Hof van Cleve in 1987 after receiving training in France at establishments such as Le Pré Catalan and with Joel Robuchon. He eventually purchased the restaurant. In 1994, he was awarded a Michelin star, and he was awarded a second star in 1998. In 2005, the restaurant received its third Michelin star, which it has maintained ever since.

The dining area is L-shaped, with a total of a dozen tables, which can accommodate around 40 people. The area has a tiled floor, a low ceiling, and tables that are evenly placed and covered with linen tablecloths of exceptional quality. The décor, as well as the food, is inspired by the region. The paintings on the walls are by Belgian artists, and the chairs are handcrafted in the region where they are shown. The meat knives were created by a Ghent artist and commissioned specifically for the restaurant. They are made of carbon steel that is more than a century old, with handles made of exotic materials such as birch wood, musk ox horn, narwhal tusk, and walrus penis bone (I’m not making this stuff up).

Guests may choose from a five-course (€195) or seven-course (€245) tasting menu, in addition to an a la carte option. A vegetarian tasting menu was also available for €215. The wine list was extremely comprehensive, with more than 1,500 labels and a thorough coverage of French wines, but it also had a solid range of wines from other regions, including the New World, and a particularly strong collection of Austrian wines. In this case, the wines were Schaef-Frohlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spatlese 2010, which cost €60 for a wine that retails for €24 on the high street, Domaine Ostertag Zellberg 2008, which cost €80 for a wine that retails for €36 on the high street, and the Didier Dagenau Silex 2009, which cost €240 for a wine that retails for €105 in a shop. At the more upscale end of the spectrum, there was the occasional deal, with markups that were normally modest but sometimes irregular. Haut Brion 1986 cost €790 compared to €515 for Dominus 1996, which cost a whopping €550 for a wine that costs €163 at retail. Petrus 1993, on the other hand, was a good deal for €990, considering its current market worth of €2,153.

Starting with a selection of little bites and a shot of grapefruit juice spiked with ginger, the dinner got underway. This dish of soft shell crab on a squid ink crisp was really delicious, with the crab having a wonderful flavor that was accentuated by a spice combination known as vadouvan, which is basically a mild garam masala blend with shallots and garlic added. The spices went really well with the crab, as did a coriander garnish and a squeeze of lime for freshness, and the crisp was great, as was the whole presentation. In some places, the appetizers are treated as an afterthought, but this is not the case at 20/20.Trappist brown bread, which was the finest of the bunch (19/20 overall), was prepared from scratch in the kitchen and served with spelt, ciabatta, baguette, and ciabatta. A wagyu-style beef patty was next on the menu, with the cow in this instance being a Belgian breed of cattle called Holstein that had been implanted with wagyu embryos and bred in northern France (from Domaine du Tilleul). A coating of Parmesan and sesame seeds was applied to the meat, giving it a distinct texture that contrasted with the delicate beef (18/20). A beautiful dish of squid that was perfectly delicate and served with soya mayonnaise, the shellfish having been marinated in Indian spices and sesame seeds (20/20). Mackerel was served with runner beans, apple, and shallots, and both the fish and the veggies were excellent (19/20). With langoustine tartare and shallot on top, the chicken liver made for an unusual and effective combination, with the components being of very good quality (19/20).

First on the menu was sardines and tomatoes, which came in two separate servings: cold and hot. This was the first official meal on the menu. In the cold version, sardines were simmered in a tomato stock with soya vinaigrette, soy ice cream and burrata cheese, as well as cucumber and a squeeze of lime for acidity. A thin pastry foundation held baked sardines, warm tomato, a tapenade made of black olives, salsa, and feta cheese, all of which were served with a warm tomato sauce. The salsa had a little dose of heat, and the sardines were excellent in both situations, with the tomatoes having a pleasant but not very flavorful flavor. A top chef’s ability to transform an ordinary ingredient into something extraordinary is always intriguing; it is one thing to create a good dish using luxurious ingredients such as langoustines or turbot, but it takes true artistry to elevate an ordinary sardine dish to something extraordinary (18/20).

Afterwards, there was Alaskan king crab served with a crab bisque, Romesco sauce (which is a Catalan sauce made with almonds and red pepper), roasted cauliflower and cabbage with basil and Parmesan, and parsley. The crab was deliciously sweet and soft, and the sauce was a perfect accompaniment to it. The veggies were of excellent quality as well (19/20). Served with cream of mushroom sauce, brown shrimps, spinach, poached quail egg, poached cream of buttermilk, and a sauce of young leeks, the dover sole was delectable. This was a fantastic meal, with the fish having a wonderful flavor, the shrimp being sweet, and the leeks being outstanding (19/20).

Cooked in a skillet, the foie gras was served with beets, hazelnuts, cherry sauce, apricots, and a little amount of Mimoulette cheese. Excellent quality liver, silky smooth and full of flavor, and the juxtaposition of earthy beets with the almonds and cheese worked surprisingly well, with the cherries offering a nice touch of acidity to balance things out (19/20). At this point, the pescetarian option was very remarkable, consisting of scrambled eggs with smoked eel and buttermilk, ceps, artichokes, and chickpeas, among other things.

The best end of beef came from a cow from the Basque area, and it was served with ceps, couscous, and sweet Cevennes onion, all of which were flavored with ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend) (a North African spice mix). Although the beef was quite soft and the mushrooms were excellent, it was couscous that really stood out as being absolutely fantastic, and the seasoning of the meal was spot on (20/20). With dazzlingly wonderful cockles from Normandy, magnificent turnips (which is not a sentence I ever thought to write), and a flawless risotto using bomba rice (20/20), the alternative of turbot was absolutely delicious.

These days, the cheese board is a purposefully restricted event, consisting of a modest selection of cheeses that are in great condition. There was also a local cheese that reminded me of Reblochon, as well as Colsten Basset Stilton, which came from an Antwerp affineur named Michelle van Trecht, aged Gruyere from Bernard Antony in Alsace, and a local cheese that reminded me of Reblochon.

Pre-dessert consisted of chocolate sorbet with banana and passion fruit sorbet, an unusual ingredient combination that turned out to be extremely tasty (18/20). It was extremely tasty, and the fruit was superb (18/20) in the white peach dish made with pistachios, verbena, grapefruit, mascarpone coconut, and peach jus. Even better was the combination of chocolate and caramel with a sorbet of cassis, raspberry, and cassis jus, the raspberry being of great quality, the sorbet dazzling, and the flavor combination harmonious (a score of 20/20).

A warm chocolate Madeleine and a platter of beignets were served as Mignardise, which was freshly prepared. Because even the small beignets were exceptional, it is a testament to the excellence of the kitchen that they had excellent texture and were powdered with exactly the right amount of icing sugar. The nicest beignets/doughnuts I’ve ever had, from New Orleans to the wonderful version that Phil Howard used to make at The Square, but these were the best of the best: totally exquisite, like the doughnuts of Homer Simpson’s fantasies (20/20).

The coffee, an Italian blend known as Antica Tostatura Triestina, was outstanding. A cart of sweet treats was brought out to complement it, including a fantastic lemon cake, raspberry pie, apple cake, and pistachio macarons, among other things. Throughout the lunch, the service was superb, and the personnel was nice and helpful. The total amount came to €367 (£293) per person, although that included the longest tasting menu, champagne, and lots of excellent wine, among other things. If you purchased less food and split a small bottle of wine, you might expect to pay roughly £220 per person on a normal night out. This is less than half the price of a three-star hotel in Paris, so it is not ridiculous in this perspective. Hof van Cleve exceeded my expectations once again; the meals were delectable, the ingredients were excellent, the technique was flawless, and the overall balance of the dishes was excellent. This is really three-Michelin-star cuisine at its finest.

Cuisine Type: Creative

Langoustine uit Guilvinec met groene asperge, verbena en edamame

Jonge anjouduif met krokant spek, aardappelmousseline en zwarte truffel

Gariguetteaardbei met duindoornbes, vlierbloesem en citroen

Address: Riemegemstraat 1, Kruishoutem, 9770, Belgium

Phone: +32 9 383 58 48

Website: Hof van Cleve Official Site

Hours: Closed: 28 July-10 August, Monday, lunch : Tuesday, Sunday

Michelin Stars: 3