A potted history: A regular presence on the 50 Best list, Hof van Cleve started life as a working farm before Peter Goossens elevated its status to a worldwide gastronomic great. Set in bucolic East Flanders, he has been delighting guests with his refined Belgian cuisine for over 30 years.
Who’s behind it? One of the country’s finest chefs, Goossens earned his stripes in Paris at Le Pré Catelan and Pavillon d’Elysée. Goossen’s wife Lieve is the master of front-of-house detail.
Following the seasons: Local produce is the backbone of the restaurant, which is offered in the seven-course tasting menu ‘Freshness of Nature’, and the vegetable-led ‘Field, Garden and Wood’. Craftsmanship, creativity and uncompromising attention to detail result in classic, yet interesting flavour combinations balanced out by myriad textures and colours on the plate. Caviar with young leek, shrimp and dashi is a case in point. Fish and shellfish feature heavily, too: think codfish with cockles, green pea and pistachio, or line-caught sea bass with green apple and black rice, complemented by sake.
Where to sit? Don't be fooled by the rustic farmhouse exterior; inside is a sleek, elegant space decorated with works of art, furniture and crockery from Belgium’s leading artists and craftsmen. Beautifully tailored waiters provide smooth, personable service, and there’s the added bonus of an outdoor terrace boasting knock-out views for spring and summertime eating.
To top it off: The epic cheese and dessert trolleys that glide and clink their way between the tables: peach with hibiscus, geranium and verbena is not to be missed.