Published: January 2007
Gareth Davis heads to the heart of the Eurozone for some stunningly stylish chow.
The first thing that hits you is the name; Cospaia. Originated by designer Marcel Wolterinck, it smacked to me of modish pretence. But prepare to enter the Twilight Zone. Having decided this would be the name of Brussels’ uber stylish new eatery on the Boulevard de la Toison d’Or, it turned out that Cospaia was in fact a very old name, belonging to an ancient, little known state in central Italy dating from the 15th century. Weird coincidence eh?
Well, it’s just the sort of tingling spine scenario to put you in the mood for ascending the tiled and sculpted concrete stairway to the Eurocapital’s latest stab at heaven. Formerly the Restaurant Adrienne, Cospaia is breathtaking. Modish in the extreme with Japanese echoes in its lines and ebony walls, seeped in Euro modernity, this is certainly a serious eatery with international ambitions. The bar is a comfortable wraparound affair, scattered with stools, sporting an impressive cocktail menu. These average €10 a pop and on my tasting, were executed to perfection.
The dining rooms are culinary galleries spotted with sweeping aesthetics; twisted wire trees, marbled walls, eye-catching 3D art on the walls, swathes of darkness from ceiling to floor in the smoking area, barricaded in by seeping light and airiness in the stark white non-smoking dining room.
The cooking, overseen by multi-Michelin starred Brussels culinary by-word Jean-Pierre Bruneau, is fittingly international in its composition; Iberico ham shares a page with Lap Kaai, miso with creamy salsify. To start I played safe and opted for a duo of smoked salmon with caviar parfait and buttermilk infusion (€21). The duo consisted of a curl of the smoked variety piped with crème fraiche and a goujon of panfried smoked, intense in taste. To be honest, this was fairly hefty stuff but scored very high on the tastebuds.
My main was a saddle of hare stuffed with goose liver and wrapped in Serrano ham on onion and mash (€27). Now, I’m a meat eater but in this case I was definitely out carnivored. Huge flavour that basically knocked me for six and more than a whiff of the abattoir. Forget the saddle. They threw in the bridle and stirrups as well. De trop in my book. But redemption came in the form of a tarte tatin (€10), a spicy little crisp number, dripping with fruit.
The wine list isn’t Biblical in its weight and appearance but slender, representative and well chosen with whites and reds kicking off at €23 a bottle.
Cospaia has pretensions. The publicity blurb positions it alongside eateries such as Bank in London, Café Costes in Paris, and Vall in Berlin. You won’t find any argument from me.
Gareth has been with TRAVEL CHANNEL since its launch in 1994. He has produced and presented on TRAVEL LIVE and THE TRAVEL BUG, produced ESSENTIAL... and reports on TRAVEL TODAY. He is a regular contributor to the website. In 2010 he produced the hit series THE HOLIDAY SHOW which he also co-presented with Ginny Buckley. Gareth’s passions are history, culture, food & drink.
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