Gastronomic enjoyment at Fleur de Sel in Kasterlee
Our visit to Fleur de Sel in Kasterlee is the perfect proof that word-of-mouth advertising works best. A series of beautiful dishes on Instagram, a lot of good reviews online and one of our acquaintances Jürgen, who has already been there 30 (!) times already, made us put this address on top of our wish list. The fact that the restaurant turned out to be open on Mondays – which is the standard closing day for most restaurants – encouraged us to make a reservation immediately. Let’s just start off the week with an afternoon of gastronomic enjoyment. Just because we can 🙂
Easy to reach, in the middle of an oasis of green
A smooth drive from Antwerp to Kasterlee brings us to a halt in a peaceful rural setting. Fleur de Sel is situated near the highway and the main road, yet the estate between the trees gives you a relaxed feeling right away. With plenty of parking spaces right in front of the door, they have another bonus for those who want to come and enjoy quietly.
Once there, the water tower behind the building immediately catches the eye. The protected patrimony is not in use any more, but gives the location extra cachet. A nice detail.
The interior is modern and contemporary. It matches what you expect from a restaurant on that level perfectly. The small details, like the table decoration and playful elements, add extra fun. We will see these again in the dishes and thus completing the picture.
Alex Verhoeven & Nathalie De Baenst
The driving forces behind Fleur de Sel are Alex Verhoeven and his partner Nathalie De Baenst. The couple met each other at De Pastorie *, after which they each gained experience in a series of top restaurants, including Hof Van Cleve and De Farmacie**. Chef Alex has developed his style in recent years into creative French-Belgian cuisine that revolves around quality products and flavour combinations. His talent has certainly not been left unnoticed, because Alex is also part of the brigade of Jong Keukengeweld and Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe. In 2015 he was in the Benelux final of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015.
Hostess and sommelier Nathalie De Baenst welcomes the guests in the hall with a wonderfully natural flair and presence. Her approach and knowledge makes everyone feel immediately at ease. You are well cared for here.
Nathalie and Alex are clearly ambitious. Alex confides in us that he just can’t resist to think ahead. “Who knows, maybe we’ll start something new in a while, in order to stay sharp and creative, to keep reinventing ourselves and to avoid staying in our comfort zone for too long. To be continued, but meanwhile we put our hearts and souls in Fleur de Sel to provide our guests with a gastronomic experience every time they come here.”, the chef says.
A classic, creative and a vegetarian menu at Fleur de Sel
The menu at Fleur de Sel just seems like a present. There are two menus in a beautifully authentic envelope for you to unwrap: Menu Nature and Menu Mistral. Both cards contain a set of neat and pure dishes, vegetarian or not. We have to say that we are intrigued by a complete vegetarian menu, and therefore we decide to try out the two options.
In addition to a selection of fine adapted wines, Nathalie has also prepared a beer pairing for the menu. “With this offer we respond to the needs of modern, often younger customers who want to try something different,” says Nathalie. It’s absolutely great that this offer exists, but we decide to go for the adapted wines anyway. Nathalie likes to pay attention to smaller wineries and special flavours when it comes to the selection, which is a real added value. We therefore share the line-up of the wines to start off.
We start with a cocktail of the house, based on gin, orange blossom and yuzu.
A series of amuses already succeeds in warming up our taste buds, for example the pizza dough and the mimolette.
In addition, we are served a bisque based on shore crabs.
A bite of soft cured cheese, shoots, cauliflower and puffed rice follows.
The Zeeland mussel with mustard is surprising and delicious.
To conclude we taste the young herring with different tomato preparations.
At a gastronomical dinner, the bread is often a treasure and not ordinary at all. This is also the case here, because we get an impressive bun that looks as one piece but is cut from the bottom up. We get farm butter from Geel, lard with brown sugar – which is apparently something typical from “the Kempen” – and a small plant with a chive-taste.
Time for the first dish now: crab meat, light mayonnaise, bergamot, kohlrabi, and fresh green herbs.
The vegetarian alternative is a wrap of Romaine lettuce, feta, tomato, and tzatziki. A tasteful dish with Greek accents.
We continue with crayfish with homemade capers on a base of elder blossoms and cottage cheese.
On the meat-free menu green asparagus is prepared on charcoal, with sour cream and horseradish.
Foie gras, smoked eel, beetroot and quinoa are up next.
Carrot, harissa and parmesan cheese are served in the Mistral menu.
After that, we have pollock, harissa, squid-pulpo octopus, pearl couscous and zucchini.
Ravioli of ricotta, spinach and chives-sauce follows. Although this dish sounds very simple, it’s really delicious. The flavours are well balanced.
In view of the tomato season, this vegetable is of course at its best right now, so it should be on the menu. Alex surprises us with a delicious tomato with a roasted gravy.
No classic sorbet to refresh your mouth at Fleur de Sel, but an infusion of Granny Smith and forest fruits. Nicely fresh and pure.
The main course consists of tenderloin, béarnaise, butterhead lettuce and artichoke.
The veggie menu has a hot dish with avocado, butterhead lettuce, artichoke, and some potato and chanterelle foam.
We skip the cheeses this time, but we would like to mention that at Fleur de Sel, it is possible to choose the cheeses à la carte to put together your own combination. A very nice idea.
Cherry, crumble, gel and foam of elderberry blossom all put together create the dessert.
The second dessert consists of raw milk, Norwegian yoghurt and stewed blueberry served flambé with jenever.
The hot drinks and digestives menu makes us happy, what a nice variety! We choose an herbal infusion and a Javanese slow coffee. The mignardises we are surprised with are cuberdons, bergamot and peanut pralines, praline chocolates with fleur de sel, Turkish delight and orangettes.
Alex & Nathalie of Fleur de Sel in Kasterlee are the prototype of young culinary talent pampering you with their infectious enthusiasm and skills. Sophisticated classic flavours with a twist, pure and delicious. Names to remember!