Perfection is boring. Imperfections are beautiful. That was my thought on that night, Friday 25th of November 2016, when somebody, outside from the restaurant, made me notice the asymmetry of the sign BoUcherY.
And … if when it smells food, beautiful stands for tasty too, well … that “U” little bit taller than the “O” and that “R” slightly shorter than the “Y” have essentially hit the spot.
Indeed. At number 812a of Chaussée D’Alsemberg, in the suburban south of Brussels, you eat beautifully and tasty. Thanks to Damien Bouchery, the chef owner of the restaurant, together with Bénédicte Bantuelle, in charge of interior design, communication and people management. With a discreet and almost shy attitude, Damien will transmit you his passion since the very first moment, when he will welcome you (“can I have a look at the kitchen?” – “yes, of course!”), then proving it little by little, bite after bite, through a tasting menu which is a combination of meat, fish and veggies creations with a unique addition and integration of herbs and plants. Everything impeccably presented, with a special attention to the raw materials, rigorously local and seasonal. As I said … Beautiful (there’s aesthetics in food presentation) and tasty.
Seasonal, sure. That’s clear. “But .. by “local” do you mean “0 km” sourced?” “Sorry, I am Italian, maybe here in Belgium there’s a different meaning. Damien: “By “local” I actually mean … truly local; the herbs with whom I cook come from the upstairs garden. I also go to the forest to pick up all the aromas I need, being deeply inspired for my recipes”.
A huge love for mother nature, respect for what she offers and … a true desire to delight his customers, I add. Spoiling them through home-made cheeses, butter and sourdough bread, an essential setting with a nordic character but at the same time a cosy touch due to the warm light of the spherical pendant lamps, flavored by that hint of passion I already spoke about…
“Obviously this style requires plenty of time. Usually I start my day by making the bread then, depending on what’s on my planning, I’ll go to the woods for herbs or go to groceries. In the early afternoon you’ll find me back in the kitchen, preparing the menu”.
An innovative menu, though never excessive, which in my case was as simple as tasty and made of:
Sweet potato and carrot lactofermented
Deer burger, red cabbage, gnokki and tomato condiment (it will melt into your mouth! to be tasted and not shooted)
Monkfish, different texture of jerusalem artichoke and seaweed
Scallop cooked on the fire, winter radishes, and purslane
Raviole of fresh smoked cheese and green leek juice
Fennel seeds sablé and chikpeas
A platter of home-made cheeses arrives before dessert: from the more aged to the softer ones, each one delicious.
A SIP OF WINE
Dessert: chestnut and quince
“Sorry Damien but … can you turn one second and tell me why … you are so good? Who you are, where do you come from?”
“Of course … I grew up and studied in Bretagne, which I left very quickly to start working at Dax in les Landes; afterwards, new opportunities made me move a lot: from Paris to London (where I worked at the Club Gascon), then to Geneva before arriving in Brussels. All those restaurants had always one thing in common, “le fait maison”. I guess that all those experiences made me who I am now, or at least defined me as the chef that I am today. While working in Geneva, you could say that I got spotted by the team of the Bistro du Mail (which was, at the time, a 1 Michelin star restaurant in Brussels). I decided to accept their offer to work there and moved to Bruxelles in 2009. Coincidence or maybe sign of destiny, it has been the place were I’ve met Bénédicte Bantuelle. She was the one to convince me to open our own restaurant and a year later, in 2010, there we were. We opened Bouchery together: me in the kitchen, her in charge of all the management of the place”.
Damien menu is definitely eclectic. Meat, fish, cheese and plenty of nature. A little bit of everything … for everybody. “my work describes me as a person (and vice versa). I tend to live simply. That’s maybe why since last year, I’m a vegetarian. It started progressively, but after a special ‘vegan’ menu that I studied for the restaurant, I’ve made the switch” So … when I said for everybody, I literally mean … for everybody, vegetarians and vegan included, for which an option is always available.
Right, because in many fields in life, it would be much easier not to displease somebody that make everyone happy. Apparently Damien objective corresponds to the latter … Try it yourself!