A weekend in Limburg. Sounds fun! We spent the night in the YUP hotel, so we didn’t have to worry about enjoying an evening of wining and dining. So we thought JER – Just Eat Right – was just the place. In fact this restaurant has been well known in Hasselt for years and has seen the reward for its longevity in the award of a Michelin Star.
Cooking and eating at JER
Its head Chef, Wim Schildermans, was actually trained as an electrical engineer but has clearly found his true vocation in cooking. He and his team, under the wing of owner John Wijntjes, make sure that the gastronomy comes in a nice and stylish framework.
Wines and drinks
We decided we weren’t going to get worked up about what to order so we went for the five-course ‘all-in’ menu, which means it comes with an aperitif and tea and coffee. John points out that with this menu the wine list is limited to three wines. But we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves, because below we’ve attached a list of all the drinks.
It’s always a great thing for a restaurant to spare a thought for local products and specialities. We immediately agree with the suggestion to begin with a house aperitif. Given that Hasselt is known as the place for jenever, it’s a Piper-Heidsieck champagne with peach jenever. It’s a beautifully fresh drink with a subtle sweetness; but even so, one glass is enough, because the flavour of the jenever comes through strongly.
Anyway; enough about drinks. Time to put the taste buds to work and go full-on for the food.
Appetizers at JER
The first snack is an ice-lolly, which is hidden in a bed of green. It has a coating of cocoa butter so that it stays nicely frozen on the inside, and the filling is made of mint and sugar peas.
The second taster too had something of the look and feel of a dessert, being a mixture of avocado, green olive, ice-cold basil, tomato mousse and quinoa served in a glass. It’s fresh and creamy, so an ideal starter.
The last of the tasters is ‘stewed veal, but totally different’ Now, anyone who’s ever made this classic dish knows that you’ve got to scoop off the froth; but with veal stew à la JER the froth is the first thing you see. So the Chef surprised us here with a modern take on Grandma’s cooking.
Starters on the menu
Time for the first starter, slices of kohl rabi stuffed with fresh mackerel, topped off with yellow and green curry, green apple, corn-on-the-cob and mustard seeds.
With it being high-season for asparagus naturally enough asparagus appeared on the menu. The Chef offered us two dishes with two different preparations of white asparagus with garden herbs; one was with ham and jelly, the other had smoked egg yolks, wild mushrooms and chervil sauce. We found ourselves wondering if there ought to be instructions with it so you’d know how to eat it? First one of the plates, then the other? Or a mouthful at a time, alternately? Actually we ended up trying one method each, and we were relieved to learn later form the Chef himself that indeed you’re allowed to make your own mind up how to eat it! 🙂
Next came sea bass with fennel, green asparagus, and calamansi, garnished with herring roe and fennel gravy. The Chinese mandarin is what makes this dish so good, as the slight sourness goes extremely well with the flavour of the fish.
The spoonful of lemon geranium and champagne sorbet was a nice surprise, offering a refreshing flavour to clear the palate for the next few courses.
Black Angus beef was the staple of the next dish, appearing on the plate with various accompaniments of Cevenne and spring onions, with Chinese cabbage and vadouvan seasoning.
Dessert, cheese and sweet treats
Simply put, the dessert is just great, with the textures of strawberry, vervain and yoghurt. You’ve really got to taste it to understand just how deliciously refined it is – or you can just take our word for it.
In the end then we did try a selection of cheeses from Van Tricht, with home-made pumpernickel bread and apricot and mustard preserve. A glass of Madeira Barbeito Frasqueira Verdelho 1981 rounded things off.
We were given delicious snacks with our tea and coffee.
Our conclusion, then? Well; ‘What’s in a name?’ At Just Eat Right, you just eat well. The only thing we should say was that we found the drinks a bit on the pricey side, but for the rest the classical cooking with an up-to-date twist has everything needed for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.