Chef Sang Hoon Degeimbre is one of the more well-known chefs in Belgium. A self-taught chef, he became well known through his use of modern cooking techniques and hyperlocal ingredients (predominantly from the restaurant's own farm) at his flagship restaurant, L'Air du Temps (two Michelin stars), located out in the "countryside" about an hour outside of Brussels.
We very much enjoyed his more casual outpost, SAN Bruxelles, the last time we were in Brussels.
In June 2020, SANS Bruxelles closed and became VerTige. VerTige is still under the larger umbrella of the SAN group but is a new concept headed up by Kevin Perlot, an alum of L'Air du Temps.
Tasting Menus: Vegetal and Discovery
VerTige focuses on "sustainable, modern, plant-based gastronomy." Though the focus is clearly on vegetables, the restaurant still serves some seafood and uses ingredients such as ham, sweetbreads, and dairy products.
They have various tasting menus. The restaurant is clearly plant-focused, but it also offers tasting menus that includes meat and seafood. The Vegetal Menu (vegetarian) is 39€, 49€, and 79€ and the The Discovery Menu (includes meat, seafood) is 45€, 59€, and 89€ for a 3, 4, or 6-course tasting, respectively.
We decided to go with the 6-course. I got the Vegetal while Bryan got the Discovery.
For several of the courses, the only difference seemed to be the addition of the protein. For example, in the photo above, you can see raw mackerel on top of the kohlrabi "scroll", whereas the plant-based version does not have it.
One of the most impressive dishes was probably the risotto, which was intensely flavorful yet was made without cheese. This was part of both of our tasting menus.
To be honest, we sort of chuckled at the main course, which was identical except for a nice seared piece of meat.
It almost seemed like the plant based menu was designed first, and then they found ways to add meat and seafood to appease the meat-eaters. In any event, it was tasty, though I wondered whether Bryan felt satisfied since just adding that one piece of meat wasn't that much food.
Single "raviolo" in broth.
Taragon & rhubarb dessert, with 2 preparations of rhubarb (stewed rhubarb and rhubarb sorbet)
General Thoughts - VerTige
I remember SAN Bruxelles being difficult to book and filled with diners when we ate there (granted, this was pre-Covid, so it's not exactly a fair comparison). The day we ate at VerTige, I think we only saw one or two other parties arrive. Perhaps it's the pandemic; perhaps it's because plant-focused food is still not nearly as popular.
I personally like light dishes that are plant-based, so I don't mind this type of restaurant at all. However, I had a feeling Bryan wasn't full enough. There was very little meat (ratio-wise), and overall the portions are not very large.
I did appreciate the artistry and attention to detail of the food. It's no surprise, given that Chef Perlot came from L'Air du Temps. The food is good, and there were definitely some wow moments. However, I think this place is more suited for people who are seeking out mostly plant-based foods. The meat clearly seems to play second fiddle.
Rue de Flandre 19