In the last 13 (lucky?) years on the blog, there are a few memorable restaurant experiences we have shared with you. Locals we keep going back to. The first Michelin stars. And then 2017 took us to new culinary heights … outside Brussels. One such discovery was Lemmonier.
The story so far
Eric Martin is self taught. In 1995 he opened the restaurant and hotel, Lemmonier. In 2005 his son, Tristan Martin, joins the kitchen and Lemmonier firmly establishes itself as a gastronomic destination. The accolades start coming in and Lemmonier is recognized by all the heavy weights – Michelin, Gault&Miliau, Generation W etc. But that a restaurant does not make, as the proof is as they say in the pudding. So we packed our bags and off we went to Lavaux-Ste-Anne the length of a dinner, a night, and a breakfast.
I would never go as far as ‘blasé’ … but we are by now used to many Brussels restaurants. Yet there is a slight tingle of anticipation when we leave our expat comfort zone and head out into … gasp! … the Belgian countryside. We always (re)discover there is so much more to our host country than we know and we are always, without fail, pleasantly surprised. By the warm people we meet. By the beautiful nature we discover. By the discreet sophistication of restaurants we didn’t know about.
Lemmonier was no different! From the moment we stepped in we were warmly greeted and welcomed as if we entered the Chefs private house.
The restaurant is oozing warmth and a certain calm, with tables seated far enough to offer privacy yet feel cozy. The exposed brick stone walls make the transition from the country style farmhouse to high end dining restaurant, connecting nature with the kitchen. Everything has its place without making Lemmonier feel stuffy or posh. A real pleasant vibe which put us immediately at ease.
Eric and Tristan Martin share their love of food and their love of nature in the kitchen. The local terroir is promoted throughout the menu and Tristan tells us that if possible, produce is bought locally from farmers and producers they have personally met. Truly from farm to table.
We opted for the ‘Les Compositions en Degustation’ tasting menu (82e) which took us through a culinary discovery tour of (mostly) Wallonia – alongside homemade bread and brioches, we started with a carpaccio of scallops with crab, leak, celeriac and apple match sticks. This was followed by sea bass with a chestnut emulsion and a surf and turf combination of pike, eels and pigs trotters.
Our happy taste buds where then introduced to the main course(s) of Belgian game – deer roe with salsify and coffee, an absolute magical combination and a deer roe burger accompanied by potato bread and vegetable pickles. Two dishes with the same meat you might think? Keeping true to their close to nature circuit, the Chefs usually buy the whole animal ensuring that nothing goes to waste. From expensive cuts of steak to offal, every part of the animal is used, with deep respect for produce and provenance.
This, and seazonality, is something we increasingly pay attention to and Lemmonier delivers on the promise. Delightful dishes which were only made better by the wines recommended by Frederic, the sommelier. No wonder Lemmonier was awarded the ‘Best Wine List of the Year’ by Gault&Milau in 2017.
Closing off, we enjoyed the most amazing cheese selection from local, award winning Fromagerie du Samson and a trilogie of desserts – grilled pear, with malt and a touch of Belgian whiskey; broken nougat, chocolate and ice cream; and a local Belgian speciality, a sugar tart. All served with coffee, tea and a sneaky digestif. Voila.
Service with a smile
Throughout! And not only that, but we also loved the fact that Lemmonier is hiring young apprentices from the nearby Namur hotel school, to serve front of house. The nerves and slight shyness where adorable and I can only hope that the boy who served us will go far. His willingness (and at the same time obvious nervousness) to speak English to us, made our hearts melt! No worries, we kept the conversation flowing in French.
The only regret is that we had to cut our absolutely delicious, homemade breakfast and conversation with Eric Martin short, due to work commitments in Brussels (and yes, the 1h drive back). Lemmonier was a beautiful discovery where everything came together in perfect harmony – the atmosphere, the food, the conversation, the surroundings. It is truly worth going to Lavaux-Ste-Anne for a gastronomic weekend, discovering the hiking trails around Lemmonier, maybe a spot of golf, and then ending with a memorable dinner made by Eric and Tristan Martin.
I would like to extend our thanks to Eric and Tristan Martin for inviting us to review Lemmonier and organizing this beautiful dinner and to their staff for hosting us and dealing with our endless questions and cameras with grace.
Disclaimer: as always, all opinions written are our own. Photos our own and JP Gabriel.
Let’s keep in touch!
You can also find us on Twitter, snapping on Instagram, or pinning on Pinterest. To keep up to date with the latest foodie & travel news, sign up for our monthly newsletter or follow us on Facebook and Bloglovin’