After my visit to L’epicerie Du Cirque, I decided to add another restaurant to my list of Jong Keukengeweld (‘Young Kitchen Violence’) discoveries. Restaurant Ardent opened a little over three years ago on the Dageraadplaats in Antwerp. Chef Wouter Van Steenwinkel and his team want to surprise you with their refined French-Belgian cuisine, offering pure food with respect for local, seasonal products. I’ve heard a lot of good things about restaurant Ardent, so my expectations were high.
Welcome to Ardent
Restaurant Ardent has a great location. The Dageraadplaats is a cozy square full of nice bars. We are immediately invited to our table and offered an aperitif by the maitre. Gin-tonic? Bubbles? Beer? They have it all and then can offer you some less known brands, which I always appreciate. We don’t have to wait long for our amuses, which were, in one word, awesome. Two Belgian classics in a new version: mussels with fries, and ragout of hare with almonds and beech mushrooms. Especially the first one was very cool and tasty.
Our three course meals kicks of with a rillette of salmon with Chioggia beets and roasted amaranth. I love the combination! The salmon with the beets looks great and tastes even better. It’s a fresh opener, with the roasted amaranth really being the final touch. Sommelier Tom Ieven presents us a Côtes de Gascogne from the Domaine de la Bastille, a full-bodied white with aromas of grapefruit. A fine choice.
Unconventionally, I want to start this part with the wine supporting the main dish. We get a Romanian Rosu de Ceptura from the Dealu Mare region. The dry red contains cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and feteasca negra, which is a very smooth Romanian grape. The name means ‘Black Maiden’ in English, and the rather unknown wine was the perfect partner for our main course: braised veal cheek with veal sausage, parsley root and turnips. The red meat melts in your mouth, and the parsley root and turnips are original ingredients which I really appreciate. A bowl of mashed potatoes to share finishes off the experience perfectly.
This wasn’t their most original course, but it was so delicious, that I don’t mind at all. Chocolate brownie with cassis sorbet and chocolate ganache. The soft sorbet and crunchy brownie isn’t a new discovery, but it works great. I loved how the two chocolate ingredients support each other and mix with the cassis taste. A great finale!
I had high expectations and Ardent exceed them. I tasted original and smart combination, surprising wines, and enjoyed a friendly and proper service. We paid €45 a person for everything described above. That’s a very fair prize. The Jong Keukengeweld menu which I enjoyed is only available two months a year and limited to people below thirty, but you shouldn’t be afraid of steep prizes, as their four course surprise dinner is available for €49. A three course lunch is even just €29. You like a delicious meal? Don’t miss out on Ardent!