Monday, April 02, 2007

Restaurant JB

9:30 on a Friday night. We had been walking, not quite aimlessly, for at least 2 hours and my feet were killing me. The bib gourmand tapas bar which doesn't take reservations was totally packed with no signs of clearing out before the kitchen closed; another bib gourmand, l'idiot du village, was also full. Making our way towards Avenue Louise, we passed in front of Restaurant JB, a disarmingly empty bib gourmand just across the street from the Louis Vuitton store. My boyfriend had previously dismissed JB because of the "low quality" of the offerings, but whateves. It was late, I was exhausted, and we could do worse than 3 courses for 22€.

JB has two menus: one at 22€ and one at 32€, with a half-bottle of wine accompaniment for 10€ extra. The one at 32€ isn't really worth the extra 10€; though there is a wider selection of entrees, the main dishes aren't that much better, and the ones that are have a supplement. We both decided to stick with the 22€ menu - at that price, and given our choices at that time, we really couldn't complain anyways.

I started with the "Maryland-style" crab cakes. They were too dry and crumbly, and too easily separated into crab meat + bread. While they certainly couldn't compare to the sublime crab cakes I've had back home, even the frozen ones at Sam's Club would give them a run for their money.
My boyfriend wasn't that much happier with his starter, a beef salad. Apparently the meat had recently been defrosted, as the temperature was very uneven.
Next up was my salmon. I was intrigued by the description on the menu: roasted with tea? Sign me up! Unfortunately, I didn't know that the "tea" meant simply the topping of tea leaves. It's hard to mess up salmon, and it was fine, but it had the same problems as my boyfriend's carpaccio: it was very unevenly prepared. One side was totally dry and overcooked, while the other side was almost perfect. It was served on a bed of steamed cabbage (disgusting) and mashed celery and turnips (delicious, but also uneven - some were room temp while others were hot).

The boyfriend's main dish was veal:His opinion: "It was bad. Cheap, quoi."
You can't argue with that.

Next up were our desserts, simple and sweet. My boyfriend had the mango sorbet,while I got the cheese platter (2.50€ supplement):
When we got the bill we were met with one horrible surprise. Our liter bottle of water (carafes of tap water don't exist in Brussels) cost 10€. Ten. Freaking. Euros. For a bottle of water. Ridiculous much? Even restaurants that possibly could get away for charging that much, like starred ones, don't go that far. I think this was just the icing on the cake.

Given the circumstances, we could have done worse, but we will not go back. I got the feeling that it was something that had once been excellent, especially when I realized there was an additional, vast but deserted, dining room upstairs. This is further proof that the Guide Michelin is useless outside of France, as the bib gourmand restaurants in Brussels are so diverse and such a range of quality and prices that this category is apparently meaningless. This would not be a bib gourmand in France, I can assure you of that.

The menu:
Restaurant JB
Rue du Grand Cerf 24
1000 Brussels
+32 (0)2 512 04 84
Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday


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