Pottok may well provide a fresh wind in the Baljuwstraat in Ixelles, the atmosphere is anything but cold. In the warm and elegantdecor you experience cosinessin its most familiar form. No grandeur or spectacle, here… that is reserved for the worldly taste bombs in the plates.
Text Anja Van Der Borght – Photos Anja Van Der Borght en Yassine Hannati
One of the many pleasures of eating at Pottok is the genuinely friendly ambience. Considering the family connections here, this is not an accident. Betsy – the wife of chef Alexandre Pottok – designed the decor. Sober but warm, with lots of natural materials, simple furniture and perfectly fitting decorations as family photos, a breathtaking framed Vietnamese skirt and beautiful lighting.
Alexandre’s carpenter brother in law, Robin, is responsible for much of the stylish wooden bar, some walls and other wooden accessories. And Gaelle, Alexandre’s cousin, is part of the team.
Behind the stove, chef Alexandre Pottok unleashes his cooking talent to the delight of the many guests who have already visited his previous restaurant Hemgie’s; the well-known specialist of meat and hamburgers on rue du Bailli. But burger fans don’t need to worry as Alexandre’s burger experience is still on the menu of his new restaurant in the form of the Pottok burger… the perfect harmony between beef, cheddar, coriander, fried egg, tomato, gherkin and homemade ketchup with pilipili (16 Euros).
No extensive menu in Pottok, but products from top suppliers and genuinely homemade delights as the very tasty bread with parmezan and homemade iced tea. The menu is kept deliberately short, mostly so as to avoid any wastage, but also to ensure the freshest and seasonal ingredients.
Homemade bread with parmezan.
“We want every dish to come from another country”, Alexandre tells. The chef with Belgian, Indian, Congolese and Hungarian blood in his veins likes fusion on the menu. “I love Thailand very much. We try to go overthere to get inspiration at least once a year.”
Every day Alexandre creates a new snack. We enjoyed an ‘Amuse with mousse of fois gras’. Original and tasty but undoubtedly not something that everyone appreciates. Maybe Faux Gras® would be a better alternative.
As a starter we hesitate between the ‘Burratina with tomato, artichoke heart and coriander’. Especially because waitress Gaelle explains to us that the subtle taste of the fine jelly of tomato is enhanced by the herbs and the bitterness of the artichoke (10 Euros). The ‘Tataki of marinated Argentinian beef fillet with green asparagus’ (13 Euros) is reported to be very tasty thanks to the marinade.
We choose three starters: ‘Frog legs with tastes of Asia’ (13 Euros), a perfect introduction for those who have never tasted frogs’ legs before. They taste a bit like a mix between chicken and scampi enhanced with coriander and garlic and are great to try.
The shrimp croquette (11 Euros)– our second starter – really is one large shrimp croquette on a plate. Too bad if you want to share your appetizers especially as the homemade shrimp croquette is of great quality containing a lot of shrimps. The small salad accompanying the croquette contains lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and – to many – carrot slices. So we leave some of the latter aside.
The Tataki of marinated beef from Uruguay and cucumber salad (14 Euros) tastes so good that for our main course we also choose beef from Uruguay.
We opt for the tender Onglets déstructurés of Entrecote from Uruguay with three herb butters. The meat is so soft and delicious that it melts in our mouth. Weeks after our dinner, we are still mouth watering thinking of this entrecôte. To accompany this meat treat we choose two different red wines: Domaine ‘Ford-Croze’ Cuvée Confidence – Côtes du Rhône wine from 2016 with aromas of black fruit and herbs and an Italian Barbera del Montferrato superiore Piemonte wine from 2015. A great red wine with nice notes of cherry and prune, a light acidity and a good persistence in the final. Great price-quality range!
Other options as main course are the Mi-cuit of salmon ‘Label Rouge’ with teriyaki, spaghetti of zucchini, carrots with ginger and fried rice. A ‘Cesar salad’ or ‘Fresh tagliatelle with cream and whole asparagus, oyster mushrooms, roasted hazelnuts and parmesan’ (15.50 Euros). The plates may not be paintings, but those who taste, forget that straight away.
Alexandre’s signature dish is the ‘Marinated pork tenderloin with boiled gravy with maple syrup and old mustard, accompanied by lukewarm potato salad (20 Euros). The meat, of which the marinade remains secret, is said to be particularly tender and the cooking time is perfect, so even the most spoiled gourmets surrender.
For dessert we choose the ‘Crème brûlée with five spices’ (vanilla, star anise, cardamom, clove and cinnamon). It tastes a bit like speculaas, delicious and original! We definitely will come back!
Pottok, Baljuwstraat 90, 1050 Elsene, tel. 02-325.95.94, www.pottok.be
Open for lunch from Thursday till Saturday from 12 till 14 hours and diner from 19 till 22 hours except on Monday and Sunday.