Madou’s Provence (Brussels)
We browsed the participating restaurants in Brussels and after consulting TripAdvisor we decided on Madou’s Provence. Keywords on their website: provençale, fresh produce, slow food. Sounds good! So we booked a table for lunch, hopped on the train a few weeks later, got off at Brussels-Congres and made our way to this spot. Hubby had phoned the restaurant an our earlier to say we would be a little late and a friendly lady answered we didn’t have to worry. And indeed we entered the restaurant where the hostess received us with a warm smile.She showed us to our table in the corner near the window and brought the set ‘menu découverte’ from which we could choose a starter, main and dessert (€36). Asparagus and rabbit for the hubby, smoked trout and rabbit for me, cheese for dessert. Hubby leafs through the interesting yet a little pricy wine list and decides on a ½ l pitcher of crisp Coteaux du Languedoc white wine (€15) and some still water. Our orders are taken, the wine and water are poured into our glasses and we look around. Apart from a table of 5 this place is empty but within the next 10 minutes it fills up rapidly with mainly men in black. We’re only 2 couples. The restaurant is decorated with some old nicnacs, dried lavender here and there, curtains with embroided bees on them, main color of the walls is yellow. Somebody did an effort to bring the French Provence into Brussels!
A little appetizer is brought to our table: creamy parmesan panna cotta, a tiny sesame biscuit and a crunchy quenelle consisting of bulgur, quinoa, fresh salmon and basil. Interesting flavors, fresh products.We see that a lot of customers go for the set 2-course lunch (€28). Our starters arrive.
Hubby gets 4 perfectly cooked crispy green asparagus topped with a goat’s cheese panna cotta (texture was more that of mascarpone, the goat’s cheese flavor was present but only in the background). A handful of drops and dollops cover the rest of the plate of which we can’t always recognize the flavors. Some to give you a thought: salty green olive crumble, beetroot, balsamic glaze, cumin/tomato, black olive tapenade, hazelnut cookie, cucumber/elder flower roll, bulgur, quinoa… There’s a bunch of things going on here! As if that wasn’t enough: this creation is garnished with watercress and colorful edible flowers. Our Flemish masters would be envious of such a still life.Let’s move on to my starter. Hidden beneath another portion of edible flowers and watercress I find 4 gorgeous cubes of half-smoked trout. The fish is smooth, fatty and flavorful. Excellent starter! As you can see there’s more on the plate here as well: salty green olive crumble, cumin/tomato, black olive tapenade, hazelnut cookie, fried onion crumble, cucumber/elder flower roll and basil pesto. What a colorful painting!
The place is nearly full by now. The set 2-course lunch flies out of the kitchen at a rapid pace now and it looks good: my half-smoked trout and stuffed rabbit with girolle mushrooms. And since we could choose between this very stuffed rabbit and salmon with nori we both opted for the the bunny main.God almighty, my eyes spend the first 5 minutes exploring the colors and flashed on the warm plate in front of me! I thought our starters were pretty packed with flashy bits and pieces. Say hello to this one. Yep, I do spot the 3 generous rolls of stuffed rabbit easily. Let me take you through the rest of bunny’s friends. Underneath the rabbit there’s a silky potato mash, crispy and flavorful girolle mushrooms but also tiny diced carrot, celery and some other veg.
There’s 3 sauces with salty, sweet and vinegar touches. The middle rabbit roll is topped with a fancy dollop of pea puree, a crunchy potato cookie and a slice of dried ham. Wow, I feel as stuffed as the rabbit already. Let’s move our attention to the top right corner: zucchini stuffed with chickpea puree and topped with another badge of veg. Lower left corner: 3 shaped vegetable purees (carrot and pumpkin for sure, couldn’t define the middle one). We work ourselves through our main but the hubby gives in in the end. Mine is polished off nevertheless but I’m pretty much bursting.
Dessert then? Cheese platter or 3 differently flavored custards. Let’s go for the cheese.Here it comes: a slice of hard cheese (comté) and a creamy goat’s cheese. But hey, the drops and flowers are back! Strawberry, the tomato/cumin again (was a little out of place here), a spoonful of tasty cranberry marmalade and nutty bread. Good. As we finish our glass of wine we see we’re almost the last to leave. The waitress suggests a cup of coffee but we decline. With the check comes a little plate with some sugary nibbles: chocolaty rice crisps, small cupcakes and lavender cookies (I should try these at home!). Blimey, these look so good… The bill mounts to a gorgeous €92 but is brought down to €20 for our drinks. We leave Madou’s Provence with full stomachs and decide to go for a firm hike through Brussels. Did us good!
This chef at Madou’s Provence knows what he’s doing. Fresh and light products, flavorful and tasty food, good portions, everything was perfectly cooked… We couldn’t find any flaws there. But how he must juggle to get all this on a plate! Little negative thing here: we couldn’t quite find the provençale slow food we read about. But my mom taught me to not look a gift horse in the mouth, so…
Since our visit the restaurant has changed its name to Madou’s Folie and is still located at the same address.
Rue de la Presse 21