Hertog Jan at Botanic is one of Belgium’s most unique restaurants. Famous hospitality duo Gert De Mangeleer & Joachim Boudens created a sanctuary of tranquillity and fine gastronomy right in the centre of one of Belgium’s most exciting cities, Antwerp. Chef De Mangeleer proposes an Omakase menu based on the delicateness of the Japanese cuisine, with the very best ingredients coming from Belgium and abroad. Some truly memorable dishes, such as the serving with Kombu aged caviar, gave Hertog Jan at Botanic a strong character and unique identity right from the start.
Concept & Location
Restaurant Hertog Jan at Botanic is located in the heart of what must be the most gastronomic city in Belgium: Antwerp. The restaurant is nestled inside the brand new Botanic Sanctuary, a prestigious hospitality project which combines a world-class 5 star hotel (member of the The Leading Hotels of the World), a collection of fantastic restaurant and bars, great wellness facilities, and world-class service. It is the first hospitality project of this kind and scale in Belgium, and already attracts demanding travellers – and foodies – from all over the world.
Inside the walls of this prestigious project, restaurant Hertog Jan at Botanic occupies a series of connecting cooking & dining areas, creating a peaceful culinary oasis in the heart of the city. The interior of the restaurant is so serene and so pure, that it could be compared to a monastery.
Beige coloured, natural interpreted walls; morphing shapes; natural and pure materials; lots of solid wood; and very limited decorations not only direct the attention to the food, they also create a setting which is tranquilizing, evoking both calmness and serenity.
Nearby the restaurant, the Botanic site also includes a small greenhouse, beehives and a herb garden which serve the restaurant as much as possible.
The Chef & the team
Gert De Mangeleer & Joachim Boudens are not new faces in the Belgian culinary scene. Au contraire – they might even be some of the most respected and experienced hospitality leaders in the country. The previous Hertog Jan, located in Zedelgem near Bruges, gained worldwide fame and recognition as one of Europe’s most impressive restaurants. The fame was the result of a combination between the balanced, delicate cooking style of Chef Gert De Mangeleer, the stunning restaurant located inside a beautifully renovated farm, and the fantastic service led by Joachim Boudens. At the end of 2018, the duo surprised the culinary world by announcing the closure of their world-class restaurant – in the meantime awarded with 3 Michelin stars. Gert and Joachim wanted to focus on other culinary projects, like their high-end brasserie “Bar Bulot” (which today also has a second outlet inside the walls of Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp) and a trendy, cosmopolitan restaurant, “LESS Eatery”. Two years later, in 2020, driven by the development of Botanic Sanctuary in Antwerp, the time had come for a rebirth of restaurant Hertog Jan.
At the previous Hertog Jan, Gert De Mangeleer became famous with a cooking style on a very high and technically advanced level. Spices, vegetables and fruits, many of them coming from their own gardens, played an important role in his culinary theatre. Dishes like the ‘collection of tomatoes’, which mainly combined tomatoes with herbs, and his starter with red beet, liquorice, red fruits and foie gras, became true signatures of the chef and were famous far outside the borders of Belgium. With his precise, natural and elegant cooking style, the chef gained 3 Michelin stars and worldwide recognition.
Co-manager Joachim Boudens not only is in charge of the wines and the dining rooms, but acts as the manager of the different business of the “Hertog Jan Restaurant Group” more than ever. He makes sure the business are perfectly coordinated and manages the many requests and new projects that cross the path of the culinary duo. Today, the Hertog Jan restaurant Group has grown into an impressive ensemble of restaurants, culinary activities and events that interact with each other. Indeed, as entrepreneurs, Gert and Joachim demand respect. In 2023, they manage 2 brasseries “Bar Bulot” (in Zedelgem and Antwerp), the international inspired “LESS Eatery” in Bruges, and their fine-dining and prestige project “Hertog Jan at Botanic”. The latter was awarded with 18 points on 20 in the famous Gault&Millau Restaurant Guide, and 2 Michelin stars, just a year after the opening.
At Hertog Jan at Botanic, immersing guests into the chef’s philosophy is more important than ever. It’s even a crucial element of Gert and Joachim’s concept, which they compare to a Japanese “Omakase” menu. The Japanese term “Omakase” literally means: ‘I leave it to the chef’, and indeed, that’s what happens at Hertog Jan Botanic. There’s only one menu available, in a longer or a shorter form (during certain lunch services), with a balanced sequence of dishes. The Japanese influence isn’t limited to the philosophy. It’s clear that chef De Mangeleer draws a lot of his inspiration from his travels to Japan, from ingredient excellence to precise cooking techniques. He is continuously looking for the best products and ingredients, whether those are truffles from France or caviar from Belgium. The seasons dictate a big part of the menu, but there will always be some signature, timeless dishes in the menu.
One remarkable example of his “new” cooking style – and already a signature dish, is his serving “Kombu aged royal Belgian Caviar”. For this dish, the chef uses his own selection of (mainly unprocessed) caviar from the high-quality brand Royal Belgian Caviar, which he ages himself in kombu leaves. Firstly, the guest receives a first serving of pure caviar at the table. Thereafter, the golden delicacy is combined with dry aged red beet, seaweed oil and a white butter sauce with sake. The dish is a wink to the famous “beef tartare with caviar”, a combination which makes little sense to Gert De Mangeleer. And he’s right: the combination between the earthy, sweet flavour of the beet and the umami-driven caviar results in a mind-blowing dish which will sear into your mind forever.
Below you can find an example tasting menu served at Hertog Jan at Botanic. We consciously won’t reveal the details of the dishes, as Gert and Joachim think the element of surprise should always be a part of your meal. A great philosophy contributing to the overall experience of the guest.
Service & Wine
Manager Joachim Boudens and sommelier Pieter Fraeyman take their guests on a wine journey at Hertog Jan at Botanic. There’s a stunning wine list with an impressive amount of references from Bourgogne and the whole of France, but plenty of references from all over the world as well. For an optimal “dine & wine” journey, opt for one of the two wine pairings. Both the normal and the more prestigious pairing offer wines that were specifically selected for Gert his dishes. Just like it was at the previous Hertog Jan, this is a wine pairing in the true sense of the word, where food and wine sometimes complement and sometimes contrast each other, but above all, result in a an experience which is higher than the sum of just food and wine.
Pieter Fraeyman does a tremendous job offering the guests suggestions for a bottle which perfectly fits the guests’ needs and budget, while at the same time comforting those that only opt for a glass or a non-alcoholic pairing. The service follows his style: professional, attentive and always present with being obtrusive.
With the move to Belgium’s greatest dining city, Gert de Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens are back at the culinary top. At the new Hertog Jan at Botanic, the duo created a specific kind of restaurant which brings together remarkable culinary creations and a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience. Serenity, purity and deliciousness are keywords that could describe the new Hertog Jan. But really, this is a restaurant that has to be experienced to understand what it’s about. Book your trip to Antwerp – you won’t regret it.