San Pellegrino Young talented chefs - Laurent Vandekerckhove at Savarin

A few weeks ago I got a message from my sister: she was invited by San Pellegrino to discover Laurent Vandekerckhove, one of their Young Talented chefs and asked me and her two teenage sons to be her guests. Aren't we lucky! A five course menu with accompanying wines and my favourite San Pellegrino water, we had been counting the days all week for this special lunch treat.

Right on the seaside boulevard in Ostend, looking out to the beach and the waves lies restaurant Savarin. There is a wall of windows at the front but once inside you get that special seventies glamour feeling with dark carpet and gold-clad walls. 

Laurent Vandekerckhove has been a chef at Savarin for only 7 months now but has already put his culinary stamp on the kitchen. With a special love for everything that the sea produces and a commitment to use local products his menus have been able to impress former and new clients of the restaurant. Apart from the great food we tasted, what definitely stands out are his presentation skills. The appetizers were phenomenal. They looked like miniature paintings on the plates. Tiny herb leaves and flower petals, metallic coloured crispies and coral prawn crackers : it was a feast of color and texture to start our lunch with. Almost too perfect to put your spoon in it, but we did and the flavour explosion in our mouth was as great as the visual effect. 

After the dazzling appetizers came three very tasty starters, where fish played a main part. Is there anything better than enjoying seafood with a view of the sea? Our table at the window was just perfect for this. No surprise that the favourite ingredients of this chef, mackerel, shrimp and red gurnard all were present on the menu.

We all enjoyed the sight and taste of the first starter. Under a soft pink granité seashell lay a scallop dish full of pure flavours and zesty tones. This refreshing start was followed by a more savoury red gurnard and parsnip dish where the accompanying Spanish verdejo from La Rueda just blew Els and I away. 
We asked for the duck liver to be replaced and were served a perfectly cooked cod with blistered skin accompanied by a surprisingly well paired ginger sauce and 'golden' carrot mousse. This was my favourite dish of the menu. 

We were very impressed by the selected wines and the excellent sommelier. A restaurant needs a good chef of course but is nothing without equally good staff serving the table. At Savarin we were warmly welcomed when we arrived and well looked after at the table, adding value to an already great lunch!

The main course was a meat dish of wild duck with seasonal vegetables: a great selection of mushrooms together with celeriac. We were happy to see the chef refrained from using potatoes and used pearl barley instead.
The dessert was made with mikchocolate and praliné but had different textures as a last taste sensation of the afternoon. The gourmandises that came with the coffee, well... you will have to ask the two teenagers about it, because while we were talking to the chef, they silently were munching away. I am sure they liked them! 

What a great lunch this was and we all made a promise to be back again soon. How difficult will it be to take the two teenagers out again, now that they have experienced this kind of cuisine. Next time you are at the Belgian seaside and are looking for a nice place to lunch or have dinner, go and visit restaurant Savarin on the seaside promenade. The menu changes every month with seasonal ingredients, keep an eye on their website for the latest updates.

Also keep an eye on the San Pellegrino Young Talent Guide that is coming out soon, with lots of more talented chefs to discover.

Albert I-Promenade 75 
8400 Oostende
+32 59 513171

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