The marina of Breskens in Holland is a real hotspot for those who want to enjoy culinary delights. In addition to Michelin star restaurant Spetters (*), you will also find the more casual Eb&Food from the same owner: star chef Laurent Smallegange. We tested both at different times and can say that our ‘favorite addresses’ booklet is again two top addresses richer. Those who associate extensive dining with a good dose of alcohol can even spend the night here.
It takes a while to find where exactly we should enter when we moor in the harbor of Breskens, but soon we find the glass entrance door to Restaurant Spetters. The one-star restaurant is located on the first floor of the building, where the young manager and star chef Laurent Smallegange is in charge. The welcome is warm, the atmosphere cozy and the view WOW. The tables are positioned in such a way that a maximum of 50 seats can enjoy the bobbing boats in the marina and the unique panorama over the Western Scheldt. The latter is an important source of inspiration for the Dutch chef with a big heart for the Belgian bon vivant.
“I have been busy with my family and team for ten years now to serve quality on the plate,” says Smallegange. “As a result of our success and the large public we reached, we started two separate concepts a few years ago. Eb&Food is a slightly more accessible day concept where a lot is possible and allowed. Here you can even enjoy a tasty seafood dish or a lunch menu when dressed leisurely in shorts and flip flops from 12 noon to 6 PM. The bar is set significantly higher on the first floor within the gastronomic restaurant Spetters and we try to distinguish ourselves with menus from lunch to dinner. My mother has been running Bistro De Kluiver here for 29 years, where they come from far and wide for her bouillabaisse. This is where the seeds for my two concepts were planted. My love for good food started at the age of 14 among the pots and pans of my parents’ restaurant. Soon it was decided that I would follow a course in Bruges at Ter Groene Poorte.”
Then I started working at several renowned restaurants, including De Librije in Zwolle. At the beginning of 2011, Spetters came across our path as if by accident and I was given the opportunity to start working here when I was 22. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands, even though I was actually a bit too young for it. But it was hit or miss. In the beginning it was difficult but eventually things worked out.
Our recipe for success is our Burgundian attitude. Our main courses are always built around a nice portion of fish with the garnish around it. I see a lot of restaurants these days working with a lot of vegetables and a little bit of fish. That is not for us. We really focus on foodies and the epicurean Belgian with a focus on seafood – we sell very little meat. My personal favorite? Our langoustine dishes. I prefer to work with langoustines than with lobster. We also have at least five types of oysters on the menu.”
After we enjoyed a great experience on a summer day earlier this year on the covered terrace of Eb&Food, a spin-off of a gastronomic restaurant where you can get acquainted with the flavors of Spetters in a more casual atmosphere, today we enjoy ourselves in the star restaurant itself. “For our menus I am inspired by the region, everything that blooms and grows around us and I combine local herbs with spices from all over the world from Morocco to Japan”, says Smallegange.
Indeed, a glance at the menu reveals that Laurent likes to pay attention to local products such as langoustines, eel and crab. Ingredients that he knows how to combine with finesse with exotic herbs and ingredients. The result is dishes that you want to melt slowly on the tongue in order to fully absorb the multifaceted aspects of every bite. Balanced dishes that overwhelmingly splash you with the chef’s skill. No excessively rich sauces here but rather light ones, flavor bombs that embody the four cardinal points.
The appetizers alone are a feast for the eyes: ‘Tartlet with whelks and Lavas chicken herbs, ‘Tartlet from nori algae with sea bass tartare and jalapeño pepper’, ‘Pani puri with Thai steak tartare and chorizo crumbs’.
With the ‘Tataki & tartare, oyster leaf, daikon, miso, buckwheat noodles, roasted spring onions’, the green emulsion of oyster leaf adds a delicious saltiness to the dish. It tastes heavenly and also somewhat Japanese. “The latter is not really intended” says Smallegange. “It is true that the Japanese kitchen is a pure kitchen and in that respect it matches well with the Zeeland kitchen. The way in which Japanese chefs make a sashimi from shellfish or fish, for example, can also easily be applied to sea bass. What they do in Japan can easily be matched with Zeeland products.”
We thought the dish with ‘Goose liver, walnut, coffee, chocolate and fresh beetroot’ was a real trick of the mind. For a moment we thought we were being served dessert, but the walnut was actually made from foie gras and although we are usually only fans of coffee from a mug, we found this combination with the chocolate and the fresh beetroot downright delicious. The way of serving and arranging it on the plate is pure art.
At the sight of ‘Sweetbread with orange, sunflower seed miso, candied carrot and lemon zest’ on the menu, we felt some reservation until the dish arrived at the table and the smell entered our nostrils. The first bite of the lacquered and crispy baked sweetbreads in our mouths in combination with the orange emulsion still leaves us mouth watering for days afterwards. We also taste Japanese flavors here. “The Japanese kitchen is a pure kitchen and in that respect it fits perfectly with the Zeeland kitchen”, says Smallegange, “How Japanese chefs, for example, make a sashimi from shellfish or fish, you can also easily apply it to a sea bass. What they do in Japan can easily be matched with Zeeland products.”
For dessert we decide to try two. Unsurprisingly, the ‘Appletini with green apple ganache and dulce de leche foam’ tastes nice and fresh and resets the taste buds a bit. The ‘Cookiedough with vanilla, apples, cinnamon and marigold’ is a beautiful picture. Not too sweet and with a nice edible Tagetes as an added detail which tastes exactly as it smells.”
We are satisfied. We can’t eat any more until we try the madeleine with winter spices with our coffee. Again we are lost.
And there is more. Have you had too many glasses after such a nice dinner? Guests who wish can also stay in Suite Sea Breeze 250 meters from the restaurant, but reservation is a must. It should be clear Laurent has thought of everything.
Eb&food – Restaurant Spetters, Kaai 5, 4511 RC Breskens, The Netherlands, +31 (0)117–381223, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.restaurantspetters.nl