Welcome at restaurant Nuance in Duffel. Stylish, tasteful and personal. Three basic elements that characterize and make restaurant Nuance a place worth to visit.
At the start of the new year, good intentions are in place. For us, those are rather contradictory, as on the one hand we want to exercise more, combined with healthy and sober eating, while on the other hand, we cannot wait to discover lots of new restaurants and delicious food, where we always plan to indulge ourselves. 🙂 A gift voucher for a dinner at Nuance, thanks to our friends Sophie & Pascal, made the scales dip towards the second option, so we quickly planned a lunch on Sunday to spoil our taste buds.
Restaurant Nuance in Duffel has been an established name in the Antwerp region for several years. With two Michelin stars and a score of 17/20 in Gault & Millau, you just know that the restaurant will guarantee a culinary experience at top level. The team is young and energetic, but because it knows how to combine that asset with passion, expertise and talent, the restaurant manages to win over the hearts of just about every guest. Proof? The people present during our lunch. We can see an older couple, a family, some younger duos and even a group of twentysomethings. The formula seems to appeal to all these people, as we can only see happy faces.
Teamwork at Nuance: passion and expertise
The driving force behind restaurant Nuance is Thierry Theys, who along with his partner and hostess Sofie Willemark gives the best of himself every day. This passionate young chef has inherited the love of cooking from childhood on, when baking waffles and pancakes with his grandmother. A thorough education at the hotel school in Koksijde was the logical next step, and afterwards Thierry gained experience in renowned star restaurants such as Beluga in Maastricht and Bar et Boeuf from Alain Ducasse in Monaco.
In 2008 it was time for him to open his own restaurant and that is how Nuance in Duffel was born. In 2014, Thierry and Sofie opened a second restaurant called Bistro Vintage in Kontich.
However, it is not just chef Thierry Theys’ passion and expertise that makes a dinner at restaurant Nuance a top-notch experience. The quality can also be seen in the restaurant itself, where hostess Sofie Willemark offers, together with her team, a welcoming and professional service.
Next to all that, sommelier Steven Wullaert adds value both by his qualities as a host and by his skills as a sommelier. He perfectly selects matching wines to accompany the dishes. These can definitely be surprising and sometimes even a little adventurous, but they are always in perfect harmony with the food. Moreover, Steven frequently informs guests that they can always tell him if they are not in favour of a particular wine so that he can provide an alternative. Steven’s passion has made sure that he already received a number of awards and honourable mentions, including the “Young Sommelier Award of Excellence” in 2011, “Best Sommelier of Belgium” in 2012 and “Best Wine List” award (Gault & Millau) in 2015.
Style and cosiness at restaurant Nuance
If we had to choose two words to describe restaurant Nuance, we would probably opt for style and cosiness. Even though the restaurant is quite fancy, everything still takes place in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The welcome is warm and makes us feel right at home. The fact that everything here is super stylish is the least you can say. The team is in sharp tailoring with (trendy) suits, and even these seem to fit right in the interior. Hostess Sofie is not only sympathetic, but also very classy, even to the degree that we would swap clothing immediately. 🙂
After 7 years, restaurant Nuance has chosen a new interior and a new corporate identity. We are definitely into the soft light and the basic colours white, black and beige, combined with trendy materials that still radiate warmth. Thierry and Sofie call it “a little Paris with a personal twist”, which sounds good and fits the concept.
Nuance tasting menu
Next to a gastronomic menu with à la carte dishes and an interesting wine list, nuance offers a Nuance degustation menu with five or six courses and adapted wines. In that menu, you will see that chef Thierry’s cooking style is beautifully reflected, with some creativity, a classical base and the strength of the seasons and quality products.
The thread running through all the dishes is the magnificent crockery. No further explanation needed, the pictures speak for themselves. 🙂
We start with a glass of champagne, after which the first amuses follow soon.
A lovely bowl of pickeled and roasted mackerel kicks off our menu. Soy sauce, wasabi seeds and apple are served next to the fish.
Our second bite is a spoon with crispy chicken, lettuce heart, goat cheese cream and yuzu.
A tartlet of buckwheat flour is next on the table. It is surprising that the dough has a subtle sweet taste, but it goes well with the filling, consisting of a cream of brown butter, mushrooms and potato chips.
Now it is time for a dish of slowly cooked spring onions, hay butter based mousseline, allspice oil and chorizo crumble.
The appetizer series is concluded with cannelloni of brick dough, beef tartare, onion crumble, pickled mustard seeds and chive mayonnaise.
The first dish is composed of hamachi, shellfish broth, oyster cream, cucumber, green radish, dried yuzu, horseradish and oil with a dill base. The paired wine has a strong scent and is very aromatic, while characterized by fraicheur and exotic, flowery flavours at the same time. The wine tastes softer than the scent suggests, and because of that it combines nicely with the hamachi.
The next course consists of three parts and is a true delight to the senses. There is a terrine and mousse of foie gras with beetroot, topped with a slice of dark chocolate and a raspberry – chardonnay vinaigrette.
Next to that there is foie gras ice cream with a lukewarm emulsion and pickled beetroot.
Last but not least, we have a beetroot in a brioche. Cocoa and ginger flavors provide balance and astonishment. In our glass, we were served a special Riesling from California with a strong petroleum scent and a sweet taste. This is necessary to provide a balance with the powerful foie gras.
Just because we can, we decide to try another suggestion dish with Cevenne onion, served with black truffle, an emulsion of onions and truffle cream and sauce.
After that we were served brill, cauliflower and caramelized pine nuts and vermouth butter, all with citrus flavours.
Next in line are the meat preparations starting with Antwerp beef with natural gravy, mushrooms, fermented garlic, pickled onion, celeriac and parsley. Different side dishes complete the experience, and we will of course gladly share all the details.
The white bean salad is with grison (dried beef) is absolutely stunning. No steak without fries, so mini fries with herb mayonnaise complete the dish at Nuance. The matching salad also has a high wow-factor because of the fact that they work with an emulsion of lettuce, shallots and tempura dough.
The matching wine is poured into a fantastic glass that rests on the side and not on the foot, which makes the drinking experience much more conscious and intense. In addition to the glass, the wine itself does not disappoint at all. It is a biodynamic Syrah from Stellenbosch, characterized by its minerality.
The selection of cheeses, accompanied by a glass of Madeira, includes goat cheese with an ash layer, two kinds of sheep cheese from Corsica (soft and spicy), a hard cheese from Lucerne in Switzerland and ‘Achelse’ blue cheese to conclude. The slightly spicy jam with a base of quince and mustard tops off the whole, especially combined with the roll of puff pastry and olives. Toasted bread with raisins completes this cheese platter.
Desserts … We remain big fans of course. The first dessert on the menu is bergamot sorbet with a sauce made of eucalyptus. We can taste caramelized flavours, buttermilk and tangerine. Freshly grated Buddha’s hand is added at the table, which is actually less alarming than it seems, as it is a citrus fruit with a particularly funky look but yet a refined flavour.
No chocolate, no dessert. Fortunately, there is a worthy ending consisting of a dark chocolate biscuit and chocolate mousse. Milk chocolate with caramel and milk chocolate with Tonka beans, cherry gravy and cream, as well as flavours of cardamom are all part of the dish too.
That was already quite the menu. More than enough and groomed to perfection. However, it appears impossible to say no to the mignardises, and the first one served is a green tea macaroon.
Up next we have homemade snickers with salted macadamia nuts and dates.
The creamy caramel cake with dulce de lecce not only looks beautiful and enticing, it tastes just as soft and creamy too.
A classic beignet always tastes great of course.
Right at the end, we get a signature dish to conclude: the Nuance cake with almond, citrus and a citrus caviar sauce.
A nice Espresso and an herbal tea are the last things we enjoy, while already looking back at the menu and all the tasty flavours we have been able to enjoy.
Stylish, tasteful and personal. Three basic elements that characterize and make restaurant Nuance a place worth to visit. The young and enthusiastic team has the experience to guarantee a culinary class experience while creating subtle surprises and refined playfulness with their fresh perspective on things.