The restaurant’s location is top, in the middle of the green countryside known as Meetjesland, between Ghent and Bruges. The air smells of straw and earth as I step out of my car, parked in front of Elckerlijc farm where the restaurant grows its own veggies and fruit and raises its own pigs.
The building is very villa-esque, but once inside I’m pleased to find a snug and cosy space with plenty of wood and brick and dim lighting. There’s a remarkable number of staff bustling about the kitchen and dining room, as the place is packed even on a Tuesday evening.
My dining companion and I start out at the bar with two Bourgogne des Flandres, a dark, malty, slightly sour brown ale from Dilbeek brewery Timmermans-John Martin. And to show that they know what it means to have an aperitif, the house offers up a bowl of salty olives and spicy chorizo to go with.
We both order something we’ve never had before: Holsteiner steak, from the milk cow, and pork’s cheek medallions. A little “EF*” next to the pork dish tells us it comes from Elckerlijc Farm across the street. The meat’s been grilled over a fire fed with wood chips from smashed up barrels of Geueze Timmermans. The taste is far richer than normal pork, and the texture considerably softer.
The medallions are presented alongside an arty arrangement of green and white asparagus, butternut squash puree, edible purple orchids, crunchy croquette, baby corn, string beans and a delicate grain mustard sauce. It goes down nicely with a frosty glass of tart Geueze Timmermans.
On the other side of the table is one massive slab of beef with a lovely crispy outside and barely bloody centre. A marbling of fat makes the meat soft and full of flavour. As does the little-known fact that the beef from a milk cow can be incredibly tender. This particular piece, from the grass-fed Holstein breed, is as soft and juicy as steak gets. It’s served with a big bowl of salad, fresh-cut fries and homemade mayonnaise. My companion opts for a Carlsberg with his meal, rather for lack of choice, and bemoans the fact that it’s not a local beer.
We’ve absolutely no space left for dessert, but another Geueze or two at the bar suit just fine. The bill comes to a correct €80.
Kraailokerkweg 17, Maldegem; 050.71.52.63
Thurs-Tue, from 12.00-14.00 & 18.00-22.00
Grilled specialties by the hand of Flanders’ most famous BBQ chef, Peter De Clercq