All posts tagged “Michelin

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Veggie spring in New York

Vegan southern chicken burger

New York is amazing for vegetarians. This is my main discovery from a week in the insomnia city. From high to low, all sorts of establishments cater to vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and other kinds of -ians. Shops store veggie-friendly ingredients rarely seen in Brussels, and cheap, well-run restaurants serve meatfree delicacies seemingly without blinking.


Since I spent most of my holiday in the city strolling around cherry blossomed streets and eating myself into heaven, I didn’t photograph much. But here follows my list of veggie greatness in New York (ordered by fancyness):

  • Dovetail. This Michelin-starred establishment has a Monday night special with a four-course “vegetable-focused” menu, and it was absolutely fabulous. The top notch included grilled fennel with avocado cream, black girolles and deep fried squid.
  • Neighbouring the Dovetail, also on upper West side, is the vegan Blossom café. I opted for their Southern seitan sandwich (like a southern friend chicken burger), and was completely floored by its juicy, chipotle-y, avocady amazingness. It was so American and heavy that I couldn’t finish my plate, and I ate nothing else for the rest of the day.
  • Zizi Limona in Brooklyn. Cute and ambient, offering mouthwatering meze and smoked eggplant.
  • Five guys. This cheap and cheerful chain serves up dripping, meaty burgers with any toppings you like (there are 15 of them, so the burgers easily get overstacked). I picked grilled mushrooms, pickles, lettuce, bbq sauce and onions which made the burger almost impossible to hold together. But the best part is that because of their slightly exaggerated toppings, we discovered that their pseudo-option for vegetarians (a hamburger minus the meat) is actually really tasty.
  • Supermarkets. If you manage to go outside Manhattan, the posh superfoods markets are great for veggie options. Granted, they’re pricey, but not really compared to European standards if you’re bringing speciality ingredients home. Seitan and tofu is found in abundance. Of course, they are difficult to bring back, but there are other goodies to be found: I came back with full stocks of New York pickled cucumber, kosher salt, Chipotle chillies and supergrains to add to smoothies.

Classic vegan burger with cheese and bacon

More than anything else, New York impresses by having so many restaurants that caters for all tastes – there isn’t such a clear meat/non-meat division as in many European cities. So while there’s often meat on the menu, there’s no let down if you decide to eat simply veggies, or simply fish. I take it that the trend of making more with vegetables, hailed by the likes of Noma’s Rene Redzepi is established much more firlmy here than in Brussels. Sadly, we never managed to get a reservation at veggie hotspot Dirt Candy, but their motto seems telling for the status of NY greens: “Anyone can cook a hamburger… leave the vegetables to the professionals”.

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A surreal Tram Experience

The tram experience

Ever wondered what it would be like to slowly trundle through the messy streets of Brussels on a white tram whilst bow-tied waitors bring you champagne and delicacies? Look no further. This niche interest has gained quite a following through the Tram Experience, where a tram in Brussels has been decked out with fancy white leather, Michelin-starred chefs and its own timetable.

Cauliflower and onion

It’s pricey, but a perfect and weird excursion if you want to treat yourself. The food is beautiful and exquisite, if perhaps not quite as excellent as I’m sure it would be in the home restaurant of Michelin-starred chefs Luigi Ciciriello and Bart De Pooter.  The wine pairing is nice, and you are offered generous glasses of champagne as soon as the tram starts its rickety ride from Palais de Justice. Upon departure, our table was set with three tasty hors d’oeuvres and amusing, hard bread balls on sticks, attached to a slab of stone: everything on the table had to be attached, in order to avoid accidents.

Black truffle ravioli

The three mini-strarters included a foie gras brûlé, a tomato doused in caramel, and pickled beetroot-coloured onion. We devoured them merrily, whilst waving like royals to the confused and bemused people we passed on the streets outside. The starter was a black truffle ravioli with meat consommé, delicate and delicious.

Holstein beef

My main was juicy Holstein beef with mushroom terrine and chocolate sauce. The meat was cooked to perfection, but the chocolate pairing was a little odd. The fish main was beautiful like a painting, but had been left too long and was a bit dry. Chocolate sauce was served also to this, and again it was a slightly odd pairing. But the sweet, full red wine went down a real treat, and we were given a little food rest to enjoy the view as we made our way further out from the city, towards Tervuren.


For dessert we were given a trio of ice cream, rice pudding and a plum in spices. Being rather tipsy at this point, I don’t remember anything remarkable about the desserts, other than that they disappeared very quickly.  Quite giggly as we rounded Tervuren and rolled back into the city, we lamented that the excursion was coming to its end so quickly. This tram trip was a bit like I imagine old extravagant traveling the ways its portrayed in Wes Anderson films. A quirkiness suitable for Brussels.