A small hotel has a restaurant with a Michelin star, otherwise you don’t count internationally. Hotel Krasnapolsky wants that too. That much is clear. I don’t dare make a prediction – however solid their roadmaps are, the roads of Brussels sometimes remain inscrutable – but The White Room has good papers: a chic entourage, high-quality dishes and a big name on the door.
‘The White Room by Jacob Jan Boerma’ is located in the monumental ‘White Room’. In the same white, brass and sand tones, a modern restaurant has been designed around the original late nineteenth-century paintings and ornaments. It has become an attractive unit, stately but not aloof.
‘… by Jacob Jan Boerma’ means that this three-star chef (De Leest, Vaassen) sets the course, his protégé Arturo Dalhuisen is in charge of the daily management. There is a lot of cooking. The website is full of witty, empty phrases – Boerma’s ‘characteristic acids and spices give substance to the illusion of white’ and ‘ingredients in his recipes are given a refined and accessible style’. Well you again.
On the plate
But now without fooling around: Boerma and Dalhuisen put down a heck of a menu (in four, six or eight courses; 65/85/105 euros). À la carte you as a guest only choose a main ingredient, the rest remains to be seen. What you can assume is that there are ‘fresh acids’ in it, because that’s what everything is about at Boerma (website, menu and wait staff leave no room for doubt about this).
Those fresh acids work like a tit. We easily put away five amuse-bouches and eight courses to go home with a light feeling. The most surprising dish consists of luscious white, sweet North Sea crab meat rolled in brined beef loin with sweet and sour vegetables and a sparkling light truffle dressing. The crab is threatened with extinction from so many sides here that the balance is unparalleled. But there it is, exactly. Like a perfect bubble that could burst at any moment.
The rest is slightly less earth-shattering, but very elegantly balanced. The dorade tartare with lime, cucumber granité and yoghurt meringue gets just that little bit of weight from a few dots of miso cream. With the langoustine with earthy beets, smoke oil and watermelon, a rinse of currant sauce lifts the whole dish like a ballerina making a relevé. With the vegetarian dishes, the combinations are sometimes very calibrated, but hey, it’s still the best tomato with goat cheese I can remember.
There is something to criticize here and there, such as an amuse-bouche that tastes like factory and a sweetbread with garnish that doesn’t really want to be a ‘dish’. And although the Chaams grouse with its own gravy and lovage is again perfectly prepared, after five courses of fresh acidity, we are now ready for something more substantial for the main course.
What we do have to talk about is the cooking of the fish: exactly at 37 degrees. Fish should not be overcooked. But trout at body temperature, that’s not a good idea. Such a light brown flebber is simply unpleasant. Better leave it raw.
Nothing but good things about the service and the wine: everything is taken care of down to the last detail. White wine that is too cold is not so bad: it will warm up again. But the wine comes on the table to the nearest half degree. When the same wine accompanies a second course, it is also intended that it accentuates other notes a few degrees warmer. Very chic.
You will not be blown off your seat at the White Room, but you will be very well looked after and – not counting the blubber trout – you will be treated to perfect preparations and truly refined, fresh, sparkling dishes.
Apart from that, one more critical note. It is impossible to inform us by phone that you are unexpectedly half an hour late: no number on the website; the hotel reception is too busy to answer; the telephone number in the confirmation email leads to a menu to book a hotel room. That is blood-irritating and inhospitable. (The number in the review block is the direct line.)