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Pure flavors with artistry: Dinant, Belgium's La Broche

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I travel all over the world and have eaten in many, many styles of restaurants. It's getting to be like "Name That Tune," in that I can spot in seconds -- within a couple moves of the front of house staff -- whether the chef really cares about the experience of the diners and how his creations will be received. I can tell you that at La Broche in Dinant, Belgium, Chef Eric Fieuw really, really cares. I was happy to be hosted to experience his art!

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It's not a fancy set up inside; dressy casual seems to rule the day. Warm bouche' breads made with local cheese were proudly set out by the server, who also presented a choice of rich butter and spicy/grassy olive oil served in a cute perfume atomizer!

A gorgeous trio of amuse bouches were served: egg with truffle and chive, rich with a nice hit of salt; creme brulee' with liver pate' that was a creamy, decadent brulee'; salmon with cheese, zucchini, spices, vinaigrette and parsley.

In Europe, they go ga-ga over the Spring appearance of white asparagus the way we go crazy about shad roe or ramps or fiddlehead ferns. They're considered quite the luxury and you're supposed to order them at every opportunity while you can! So, I did. Duo of asparagus was presented in a bowl and in a martini glass. One side was mousseline of white asparagus a la reglisse with hot foam of cream and Thai basil. So delicate, so sophisticated and well-conceived! The dish highlighted green asparagus in Hollandaise sauce.

For a main dish, I had a grilled half baby lobster with crustacean butter and sweet spices. Excellent and fun to eat! Sure, I took them up on their offer to wear a lobster bib. It was accompanied by lentils.

Dessert was a proper European arrangement of cheeses.



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