Published on February 22nd, 2018 | by Tony Mallett0
No rotten tomatoes at Avenue Louise resto
Fine dining does not always necessarily equate to healthy eating but, happily, Rouge Tomate¬†is one place that ticks both boxes, writes Martin Banks.
Alex Joseph is the American-born head chef and co-owner whose wonderfully creative talents have brought a touch of real style to the Brussels culinary landscape.
Ably backed by an equally vibrant young team of chefs, he oversees a kitchen dedicated to the art of¬†contemporary cuisine.
Alex has certainly come a long way fast. His love of cooking started early, in fact, when he was just 10 and his maths teacher used a recipe to teach him about fractions.
He was far more interested in the food, though, and soon started cooking at home and selling little things like banana bread in a local caf√©. ‚ÄúI fell in love with the craft,‚ÄĚ he recalls.
Before coming to Belgium, Alex had worked at the Cyrus (California) and Eleven Madison Park in New York. He arrived in Belgium in June 2009 for what was meant to be a three-month work placement at¬†Rouge Tomate. Fast forward to 2018 and he now co-owns the restaurant and has won awards for his culinary creations in the process.
The restaurant is located in an atmospheric townhouse, dating from 1883 and the elegance of the surroundings is more than matched by the harmony‚ÄĚpresent in the dishes, all of which demonstrate Alex‚Äôs desire to experiment with creative, yet balanced recipes.
Complete with¬†chic bar and large wooded garden terrace, the decor, like the food, is cool and sophisticated with guests here given a particularly friendly and warm welcome on arrival.
The service is friendly, discreet and attentive while the food and flavours are wonderful.
There’s a range of options, including a ‚Äúdiscovery menu‚ÄĚ comprising five courses, and a six-course ‚Äúchef‚Äôs inspiration‚ÄĚ menu.
The carefully crafted a la carte includes tasty and nutritious starters such as fried octopus, scallop carpaccio, avocado with crab meat and seared foie gras.
Main-dish choices on the menu comprise at the time of writing a range including lobster ravioli, braised Iberico porc¬†cheeks, carnaroli risotto and a mouth-watering Angus rib eye ‚Äď all absolutely wonderful.
Lunchtime diners are well catered for with a ‚Äúbusiness dish‚ÄĚ (1 course), ‚Äúbusiness lunch‚ÄĚ (2 courses‚ÄĚ and a ‚Äúbusiness menu‚ÄĚ (3 courses). The wine list is impressive too with experts on hand to guide you through the card.
Situated half way up the city’s prestigious Avenue Louise, this place is popular with the local business community but also makes for a nice family occasion with the kids too.
Alex originally hails from Graton in California and, after honing his craft under the guidance of world class chefs Douglas Keane and Drew Glassell he joined¬†Rouge¬†Tomate¬†Brussels to lead the kitchen as executive chef.¬†In 2015 he won the title of ‚ÄėSan Pellegrino Best Young Chef‚Äô for the Benelux region and was voted fourth-best young chef in the world at the international final in Milan.
The ever innovative Alex also recently opened a new 3-bedroom guest apartment, ‚ÄúThe View‚ÄĚ, on the penthouse of the building, Overlooking the most beautiful gardens of Brussels and with easy parking, it‚Äôs also available for private and professional dinners, gatherings and board meetings.
In the kitchen below, he‚Äôs surrounded himself with a cosmopolitan team of creative chefs who each share a love for quality produce, refinement and contemporary cuisine.
His relatively simplistic approach to cooking focuses on vegetables and seasonal ingredients. He finds constant inspiration from the local Belgian products and culture.
Alex says: “It always amazes me how much love Belgians have for their food. It seems to be a part of the culture to have great ingredients, market fresh produce, meats and fish are all readily available. I also believe that because Belgians are typically a well-travelled people, they have a good sense of quality on the plate.‚ÄĚ
The result here is innovative food at its best, delivered by a real expert and his very pleasant staff.
It was while working at¬†Rouge¬†Tomate¬†in New York that he was asked to come to its Brussels counterpart to take charge of the kitchen.
The Big Apple’s loss was most certainly the ‚ÄėCapital of Europe‚Äôs’ gain.
Aveune Louise 190,
02 647 7044