Rouge Tomate is a place full of stories. Be it the long way of chef Alex Joseph towards becoming an owner and chef, or the friendly ghost of the lady who used to live in the building. That’s what the food is all about: stories. Stories from the US, Italy or Japan, on the menu you’ll find dishes that are all but boring.
“If you can make it there, you can make it everywhere” – might be the sentence describing the life of chef Alex Joseph, who is the owner of Rouge Tomate Brussels since 2014. He was born in California, moved to New York City, where he was working among others at Eleven Madison Park, rated #1 restaurant in the world a few weeks ago. He started worked at Rouge Tomate in New York City and then decided to move to Brussels to try his luck in the Belgian capital. After some ups and downs (who thought Brussels-life might be rougher than the one in NYC) he finally became owner of the gourmet restaurant in 2014.
The menu is creative, not too big and changes every few weeks, so neither the guests get bored nor the chef. He’s looking for fresh ingredients on a daily basis and depending on what he finds on the market, will land on the day’s menu.
We had the tasting menu for 75€, which is the biggest you can get here and it’s quite extensive. On our plates: a piece of waffle, with orange cream and salmon; then a small bite of Kimchi on fresh cabbage with wild garlic an carrot ash; followed by a very interesting combination of a Macaron with Foie Gras and a croquette with mushrooms and truffle oil (mon dieu!); a little tomato gazpacho with pepper tapenade.
One of my favourite ones: very fresh and tender lobster and beef Tatar and a bone marrow croquette. A very nice mix of tastes and apparently a common thing to do in Maine, US; mixing lobster with beef, because the beef was more expensive, to use it all by itself for the Tatar (what an irony).
The next dish was very tender octopus with Thai vinegar, avocado and olive oil. Followed by Sea bass with vegetables from the South served with a stripe of pork fat, which eaten together with the veggies created an incredible taste. After this: creamy risotto with green peas, lavender and lavender foam (for me, could’ve been a bit stronger in taste, but I’m also a big fan of lavender in food); then, duck breast glazed in sweet honey and 4 spices, with seasonal vegetables (pea, scallions, cabbage), accompanied by a sauce made from a special smoky pepper from Ghana.
Off to the final round, the dessert: Belgian strawberries, poppy seed crumble, cardamom, a very creamy ice cream and the other a golden chocolate bar along with thick caramel and chocolate cream, blackberries, chocolate crumble.
They have lunch menus, evening menus or dishes à la carte.
Even though it was a bit of a busy night, Alex found time to chat with us, tell us some anecdotes about his work as a chef and life in the Belgian capital. If you want to skip dinner you can also just visit the ‘Alice’ bar upstairs or have a cocktail there first and then head down to the restaurant.
Perfect for a working dinner, dinner with a bigger group, dinner with your friends or with only one friend – whatever you prefer.
Price: Lunch menus 24-35€; evening tasting menus 55-75€; à la carte main dishes 22-36€