Friday, 29 January 2016

Au Vatel (place Jourdan)

I've previously reviewed other establishments on place Jourdan, but it took me a while to realise that Au Vatel wasn't just an upmarket bakery selling intricate cakes and also offers sit-down meals. It has the feel of an Etterbeek institution (albeit one that appears to have gone bankrupt in 2014 - strangely, I can't find any reports of the recovery it must have experienced since then).
In order to eat in you walk past that tempting cabinet of pastries and to a seating area at the back; there are windows but they don't really have much of a sky view, so the space is slightly dark and some of the furniture is a bit too close together. This definitely feels like a bakery with tables rather than a café. Oddly, this distinction was also reflected in the people serving: those behind the bakery counter (where you pay) seemed more jolly and engaging than the waiting staff.

On my first visit I went for a breakfast: for 10.50E you get coffee, orange juice, rolls and two eggs. I chose these to be served as an omelette and felt my order had been executed over-literally: if you made an omelette with two eggs alone and without any oil, butter, herbs or salt it would probably look like this. It was also not only dry but rather over-cooked, hence the brown crust on the outside. The rolls, meanwhile, were fresh (although not warm), which is the least you'd expect here, but would have been better served by something other than mass catering-style portions of butter and jam.
(forgive the artistic background; it seemed appropriately decadent)
There are also plenty of lunch choices, including quiches, salads and sandwiches, but on another day I went for the daily special of onion soup (4.95E), which wasn't photogenic enough to be reproduced here. It wasn't quite the caramelised French-style extravaganza that I expected (although in a nod to that version it did arrive with a side dish of grated cheese) but it did taste better than it looked, and I was actually quite impressed by the depths of flavour that the kitchen had drawn out of what was essentially pureed onion with seasoning. It came with bread that was just on the unacceptable side of the fresh/stale boundary: obviously bakeries want to use up day-old products, but still... For the purposes of comprehensive reviewing I followed this with a salted butter caramel tart (4.95E, quite a hefty - and unadvertised - mark-up from the takeaway price of 3.50E). This comprised a notably hard pastry shell filled with rich buttercream topped by even richer caramel, with not much salt to counterbalance this. Nice as a treat, I suppose, but one that left me without much of an appetite for the rest of the day.
So, there are plenty of goodies on offer at Au Vatel, but I'm not sure if dining in is the best way to appreciate them. In future I think I'll stick to buying bread (and maybe the odd cake) to take away.

Au Vatel
place Jourdan 27
1040 Etterbeek


No comments:

Post a Comment