Colette De Vijvers is one of Belgium’s most promising fine dining restaurants. Chef Thijs Verloet serves classical inspired dishes with outstanding produce in one of the country’s most beautiful dining rooms. The views on the lake and the forest surrounding the restaurant are hard to beat and the chef’s seasonal specialties can’t missed here. Take us back, please!
Colette De vijvers is located in the small town of Averbode in the Northern part of Belgium. The sleepy town is known for the beautiful Averbode Abbey, which was founded in 1134. The abbey is located around 1 kilometre from the restaurant. It’s perfectly walkable if you want to burn some calories before or after your meal. The restaurant can be found in the middle of Averbode forest, bordering Averbode lake. It’s one of Belgium’s most breath-taking dining locations. Guests enter the (private) domain along a wooded driveway and the parking is located a few dozen meters from the restaurant. That small distance is part of the experience and allows diners to get a “hands-on” taste of the natural beauty that surrounds the restaurant.
From the dining room, the views are incredible any time of the day. Spacious tables are sufficiently spaced apart and floor-to-ceiling windows ensure that everyone has a stunning view of the surroundings. The dining room itself is classic but timeless, with some contrasting pieces of modern art. White tablecloths and gold accents create a luxurious, French-inspired atmosphere – which fits seamlessly with Chef Thijs Vervloet’s cuisine.
In summer, the big terrace bordering the lake is an outstanding place for a wonderful lunch.
The chef and his team “discovered” this location by chance. When Thijs was looking for a solution to the lack of space in his previous restaurant (located in Westerlo) during the full corona crisis in 2020, he ended up at De Vijvers in Averbode. The domain where the restaurant is housed, used to belong to the “de Merode” family. Thijs’ grandmother’s mother cooked for this family years ago, and this way Thijs honours his grandmother Colette, at exactly the place where she started cooking about a century ago. Just a stone throw away from restaurant the Colette De Vijvers, hidden in the forest, Thijs also manages a second restaurant: the quality bistro “Bistro De Vijvers”. A great place to sample some Belgian and French brasserie classics.
Chef Thijs Vervloet was born in 1990 and got inspired by cooking through his grandmother Colette (hence the name of his restaurant today). Colette has been a cook herself for many years and it was from her that Thijs learned the kitchen craft from a very young age. Thijs had an hospitality education at the renowed hotel school Ter Duinen and gained experience at several top restaurants afterwards: he worked at Hof ter Hulst (Hulshout), Magis (Tongeren), L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Paris) ‘t Fornuis (Antwerp) and ‘t Zilte (Antwerp). At restaurant ‘t Zilte he was the sous chef and it’s here that he learned the magic of a top fine-dining cuisine.
In 2016, Thijs and his partner and lady of the house Lore Leys opened their own business in the former house of his grandmother Colette in Westerlo. The couple immediately scored high in the culinary world and only a year after the opening, the restaurant was awarded with a Michelin star. The Gault&Millau guide awarded the chef with the title “Young chef of the Year 2019” and a score of 16/20 points as well. A remarkable start for the young couple! When the corona crisis hit in full force in 2020, restaurant Colette moved to a bigger location and was renamed “Colette De Vijvers”. Here, Thijs and Lore continue the culinary family tradition in one of Belgium’s most impressive settings.
Chef Thijs Vervloet is a standard-bearer of a classic, French-inspired cuisine. However, his kitchen is not old-fashioned nor overly heavy, but combines fine notes with rich sauces, delicate flavours and above all top products. Oh yes, top products you’ll definitely find here on the menu! One of the starters even combines A5 grade wagyu with sea urchin and a generous portion of caviar. It’s over the top, and it’s over the top delicious.
Many of the dishes are based on the principles of the classic French kitchen, which combine one main ingredient with a sauce and 3 or 4 extra ingredients. These ingredients are used to support the main ingredient, not to overrule it. A great example is his turbot serving, which is combined with mashed potatoes & veal sauce combined with a sour cream sauce and a quenelle of caviar.
Another dish – and a signature of chef Vervloet – which incorporates the black gold, is his veal tartare. The chopped meat is delicately served on top of a cream of cauliflower and covered with a layer of caviar “Foudroyante”. The signature menu combines dishes like the veal tartare with other successful timeless or seasonal dishes. However, the à la carte menu is outstanding, too.
In game season, Colette De Vijvers is an amazing place to sample one of Belgium’s best wild hare servings. The meat is perfectly grilled and served with an intense sauce. Tableside, it is accompanied by no less than 8 small side dishes like fried chicory, creamy butter puree and others.
Another classic-to-be is the “Poularde Coq des Près”, which comes in different servings:
Make sure to leave some space (we know, it’s difficult) for desserts and the wonderful sweets & pastry trolley. The pancakes Crêpe Suzette (with orange and Grand Marnier) and Crêpe Normande (with apple and Calvados) come highly recommended.
Other dishes & appetisers:
Service And Wine
Service at Colette De Vijvers is led by lady of the house Lore Leys. As you would expect in a setting like this, the service is discrete, highly professional and elegant. There is a wonderful wine list on offer and wine pairing arrangements are available to complete the chef’s tasting menus.
Colette De Vijvers is a wonderful restaurant which ticks all the boxes that define “fine dining”. The dishes are rich, luxurious, and above all delicious; the setting is stunning, with a beautiful dining room that boasts mesmerising views on lakes and forests; and service is spot on, too. Bon appétit!