Lovers of delicate veggie treats and exquisite botanical cocktails, there is a new address in town: Hortense & Humus. Hortense’s story began in a secluded vault in a Sablon alley. Matthieu Chaumont brought the cocktail art and habit to a city that drank beer & wine. In search of more light and creative space, he left the crypt and moved into the former British-tea hotspot ‘La Mercerie’, a stone’s throw away from Flagey.
Matthieu is a Botanical Maître of sorts, creating surprising mocktails and cocktails. Think potions made with fennel, turmeric, herbs and high-end spirits. He never stops exploring new flavors and original combinations. Nicolas Decloedt (Mugaritz, In De Wulf, Bon Bon) is H&H’s chef and concocts his dishes in harmony with Matthieu’s mixology. His food is plant-based, organic and locally sourced. Most of the herbs and veggies are grown in their garden while other products come from small producers near the city. For example, their butter is crafted by Maria and their bread comes from Charli. Other than with Matthieu’s brews, the menu is paired with a wine list, mostly natural, organic or biodynamic.
I tried the 3-course lunch (23€– 2-course for 19€) and was in awe with the explosion of taste I got from each bite. Elaborate flavors and ingenious textures. To start, grated endives, yacon, cheese cream, black radicchio and persil root-chutney. Then came the main dish, made of salt-crust baked rutabaga, white beans and lightly roasted Jerusalem artichoke, shiitake and roasted onions. To close the feast, a chestnut cake topped with yoghurt espuma, poached- and pickled pears, malt ice cream and pear & cinnamon meringue. Words fall so short… I am curious to try their dinner menu and the weekend brunch (25€).
The interior is ravishing, with a glorious central chandelier. But the ceiling steals the limelight. Painted in a Sistine Chapel sort of style, the angel-featuring ceiling matches the dishes’ refinement. Without a doubt, one of my new Brussels’ favorites.
Hortense & Humus, 2 rue de Vergnies, 1050 Brussels. T: +32 479 54 44 87 , Open from Wednesday to Saturday from 12 am to 2.30 pm and from 6 pm to 12.30 pm. Sunday, from 12 am to 8 pm.