WOW* Restaurant score Brasa Grill Knokke:
Brasa Grill Knokke is the newest offspring from Cuines 33 (the Michelin-star restaurant further up in the same street), for which they got associated with two young talents, Deborah Hellburg and Maurice De Jaeger. Brasa Grill Knokke aims at being your not so typical grill restaurant. Inside it looks eclectic with some strong references towards American style grill restaurants.
Looking at the well-equipped kitchen with beautiful counter and the neatly dressed up cooks and staff, it immediately becomes clear that this address is more ambitious than it might look at first sight. A transparent fridge shows off the premium pieces of selected dry-aged meat while a central bar indicates a cocktail style approach. The latter is also very typical for American style grill restaurants. You start with a cocktail. Good enough, we’d say.
To frame things correctly: Brasa Grill Knokke is mainly an ‘à la carte’ restaurant with a decent choice of appetizers (Jamon Iberico, oysters, boneless ribs, …) and starters such as grilled pepper soup, BBQ’d mackerel or spicy grilled gambas (prawns) to nam a few things. Noticeable fact is that the menu consists of almost 50 % drinks. In the spotlight a range of gin/tonic variations but also quite some Bourbon cocktails such as a Horse Neck (Bourbon Ginger Ale, Bitters). These go along with some other spirits such as 15 year old Zacapa rhum or Appleton Jamaican rhum. Moreover, whisky lovers won’t go home unsatisfied with a choice of about 20 different specimen. There’s even the (excellent) Japanese Nikka Yoichi.
As for our hosts Deborah and Maurice, these guys are just awesome. Such positive energy, such vibe. The flair and elegance Deborah radiates, even during service with a full restaurant, is just plain amazing. We’ve rarely seen this kind of panache. She has an eye on everything and everybody but it just seems like a walk in the park for her. And then there is her ever smiling face: just perfect. Deborah rules ! Oh yeah, let’s not forget Maurice (insert grin here): this guy has a truckload of experience (Oud Sluis, Pure C, Bartholomeus, …) and his cool in the kitchen really puts customers at ease. Moreover, his dexterity with the grill (which is a daunting task with the different kinds of meat and, yes, lobster or fish) is already legendary even after the restaurant being open for only a few weeks. This guy is the backbone of Brasa Grill Knokke. For sure.
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We share a starter, the grilled and and lacquered pork belly. After all, when being an experienced grill restaurant visitor one should save space for the piece-de-resistence, the meat. 😉 The grilled pork belly is of a good quality, but it’s lukewarm aspect kind of spoils the full enjoyment. Was it too long on the pass ? It should be hot, crisp and juicy. It’s crisp already, but the temperature is not right. On top some springroll style vegetables which taste rather bland. Verdict: ok, but nothing more than that.
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Following to that a quality piece of grilled Chianina (a beef specimen from Tuscany, which can be accounted for as the healthiest meat you’ll ever eat). The meat is tasty but the plate looks scaringly empty: there’s only a nicely sliced piece of Chianina meat and a compassionate flag on it to tell us that we’re really eating Chianina. (for the photo we’ve ordered some green asparagus – 6 euros for 4 asparagus – to give it a more aesthetic look) We understand the American style side-dish approach. In the USA this is how these kind of restaurants operate and we’re fine with that. But in contrary to those restaurants if you want to add one choice of greens (6 euros), fries (4 euros) and sauce (around 6 euros) over at Brasa Grill Knokke the tab quickly goes up by 15 euros or more (per person that is). Considered that for the choice of dry-aged meats (yes, we understand the effort it takes to produce this kind of quality meat and doing the fine selection of suppliers) of which the pricing ranges somewhere between 32 euros and 45 euros, a typical main course can quickly add up to almost 50 euros per person. Therefore, to go along we share a portion of Patata Canari (very tasty, in the oven roasted and salted, potatoes in the peel) and a portion of green asparagus.
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Investigate as we are, we also order the fish of the day, which is monkfish. For some this might be blasphemy in a grill restaurant but for us it’s a proof of concept of a good grill restaurant. After all, not all people in a diner party are into meat, so every quality grill restaurant should offer a decent alternative. Check ! Maurice (and his team) sure know a thing or two of employing the grill and that’s an understatement. The fish is just perfect. It’s juicy, full of taste and not charcoal dominated. We don’t really mind about the carrots that come along which are perfectly cooked but that’s it.
© Photo wowozine.com
In contrary to other restaurants, our attention for this spanking new eatery was drawn by its signature dessert: pineapple which has been roasted on the spit roast for six hours while it gets constantly rubbed in with salted caramel. The idea already sounds very seductive. Putting so much labour into a pineapple based dessert, that must be worth it. Following the Brasa Grill Knokke menu it’s served with a baba au rhum and homemade vanilla ice cream. We don’t say no to that ! 😉 And: it is all we’ve dreamed it should be. The pineapple is heavenly. It’s soft but still juicy, its sharpness has been reduced in a marvellous way and the salty caramel is the perfect counterbalance for its remaining acidity. Along comes a quite dry lemon flavoured cake (???) form wise disguised as a baba au rhum (no rum taste there) with excellent homemade vanilla ice cream. Don’t let the picture above fool you, it doesn’t do any good to this heavenly dessert. Wow ! A coffee to wash things down evens everything out. We leave satisfied but somehow puzzled about the sometimes hefty pricing on the menu. Oh well, the beau monde of Knokke won’t mind so why bother about that ? It’s a good grill restaurant and a good acquisition for the epicureans residing or visiting the finer part of the Belgian coast !