Restaurant LOF, Ghent

Introduction

The LOF is the main restaurant of the Grand Hotel Reylof on Hoogstraat in Ghent. It’s about ten minutes on foot from the centre of the old town. The restaurant offers a set menu with either seven, six or five courses and there is also a vegan option. The staff are very friendly and helpful, and it’s easy to swap one dish for another if there’s anything on the menu you’re not keen on. The sommelier will also put together a wine pairing for you for each dish.

Reservations are very much advised!

Amuse bouche

Parsnip with butternut cream, tomato and crispy baked kernels of rice.

Macron of blue cheese with ponzu gel & kroepuk with nori, red onion and wasabi mayo.

Multigrain bread with beurre noisette and onion crumble.

First course

Wild salmon marinated in red beet, with hoseradish cream and ponzu oil.

Second course

Scallop ceviche with parmesan cream and a kafir lime & passion fruit jelly.

Third course

Saitan on cauliflower cream and scorzonera, with vegan broth.

Fourth course

Monkfish with carrot, shallot and leek with an anchovy mayo.

Main course

Dorade with dashi espuma and topinabur.

To cleanse the palate

Gingerbread sorbet with citrus yoghurt and salted caramel.

Dessert

Jasime, verbena & green tea ice cream with lychee parfait and pear.

Tea

Selection of home made sweets.

Mint infusion.

Conclusion

I very much enjoyed my meal at the LOF. All of the dishes were nicely balanced and the mix of flavours was intriguing and surprising. The only dish I thought was just okay was the saitan, but that’s hardly surprsing given that saitan doesn’t really have much of an own flavour. All the dishes were nicely presented.

I thought the staff at the restaurant were excellent. They were all very friendly and relaxed, but not sloppy. As a result, the meal was nicely paced and did not feel at all rushed. The atmosphere was cosy and laid back. The saitan and dorade dishes were not on the original menu. I just asked if there would be other options because I’m not too keen on fowl and poultry. The staff were really great with my request and were happy to accommodate changes to the menu.

Ghent has some really excellent restaurants. It’s quite difficult, I think, to eat badly in this town. Even so, LOF certainly sticks out for the quality and creativity of its dishes and the friendliness of its staff. Next time I’m in Ghent I’m certainly going to make sure I make time for another visit!

Le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon – Paris

Introduction

Le train bleu was the unofficial designation of a scheduled service provided by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-lits, who also operated the infamous Orient Express, that ran from Calais to the Côte d’Azur from 1922 on. The train got its name from its carriages’ blue livery.

Le Train Bleu was eventually terminated when travel became more affordable and demand for luxury travel gave way to mass tourism. What remains, is an excellent restaurant within the Gare de Lyon in Paris. And today, I am going there for lunch.

Le Train Bleu restaurant opened back in 1901 on the occasion of the inauguration of the Gare de Lyon in Paris. Originally, it went simply by the name of Buffet de la Gare de Lyon. However, in 1963 it was renamed to take its current name.

The restaurant’s interior is spectacular in the opulent fin-de-siècle style and really unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. It looks more like a cathedral than a restaurant.

Access to the restaurant is via the grand staircase in the middle of Hall 1 of the main concourse of the Gare de Lyon.

The menu

The menu offers a wide selection of seasonal dishes that nicely showcase French cuisine.

The waiting staff

The staff at the restaurant are all very friendly and helpful. I think what impresses me most though, is a) just how many waiting staff are active in the restaurant at the same time, and b) just how nicely paced the meal is.

The meal

We begin with an amuse bouche of lightly smoked white fish on cream cheese.

For the starter I go for the lightly smoked salmon with seasonal pickled vegetables and blinis. The presentation of the dish is lovely, and the taste is excellent, with a nice variety of subtle flavours.

For the main course I have the quenelles à la Lyonaise. Quenelles are a kind of fish dumpling. They are served in a rich bisque infused with cognac and a side dish of grilled basmati rice. And lovely, crunchy French bread.

The main course is absolutely divine, and mopping up the bisque with the bread when I’m done has me making the most obscene moaning noises.

My travel companion has the grilled scallops, which are nicely presented and apparently taste very good. The scallops are served on a bed of chickpeas.

For dessert, I really just can’t resist and go for the crêpes Suzette. What a classic! At le Train Bleu the dish is prepared at your table, including the bit where they set the whole thing on fire with a healthy dose of Grand Manier. And this is just heaven. I shove a fork of the sweet goodness in my mouth and all the frustrations of the last two years are just washed clean off me. And all that remains is the zesty flavour of the orange juice combined with the creamy, buttery richness of the crêpes.

My travel companion has the chocolate fondant, served with creamy vanilla ice cream and an elegant hint of licorice.

Once I’m done, I do for a moment consider a cup of mint tea to round off the meal. But I’m running out of time. I have an appointment at the Louvre at 15h00 to see La Gioconda, otherwise also known as Mona Lisa, and I don’t want to be late. Luckily, I’ll be back in Paris next week, and already have another reservation at Le Train Blue, so perhaps I can try all the things I missed out on this time…

And tomorrow? I’m in Paris, and tomorrow is the start of the IATA winter time table. With that you can probably figure out what I’m up to next…