Altermezzo is a great place to sample the very essence of contemporary fine dining in Belgium. Chef Jo Grootaers offers balanced dishes and tasting menus which put flavour above complexity, while maintaining a very well executed cooking style. Great products find their way in dishes that are served by a professional and friendly team in a relaxing, modern interior.
Altermezzo is located on the Bilzersteenweg, a fairly busy road that connects the cities of Bilzen and Tongeren. The historic city centre of the latter is only a stone’s throw away from the restaurant. Both cities are located in the Limburg region in Belgium in the north of the country. It’s a beautiful and laid-back region, known for its nice hospitality and beautiful nature.
Altermezzo is housed in the former municipal school of the small town of Riksingen. The interior offers plenty of space for a luxurious dining experience. Spacious, modern, elegant and casual are the key terms to describe the restaurant’s interior. The dining tables are divided over three areas: one near the entrance, one just opposite the bar and a spacious area at the back of the restaurant.
This last area boasts a cosy fireplace and a “wine wall” and it can also be used as a private dining room for groups. The design combines dark colours with wooden tables and subtle accents of modern art. There’s a spacious outdoor terrace, too, surrounded by beautiful plants and trees. It’s a wonderful place for summer lunches and dinners.
Jo Grootaers leads the kitchen at Restaurant Altermezzo. The young and driven chef is one of Belgium’s greatest talents. In 2017, he was elected as “Young chef of the Year for 2018” by the Belgian Gault&Millau restaurant guide. Jo did not gain experience under the wings of one of the “greatest chefs”, but that did not stop him to evolve and become one of the country’s most promising cooks.
Jo masters the craft of cooking and grilling ingredients to the point where they are at their very best. And he knows how to combine one main product with just the right ingredients that complement or contrast his “main actor”, in such a way that the flavours of the main product are emphasised.
Chef Grootaers’ cooking is modern and refined. Most dishes are based on a classical basis, yet executed with a keen eye for techniques and presentation. He likes to let the product speak and uses subtle contrasting flavours to extract the best flavours out of his main ingredients. Like in his wonderful preparation of turbot. The fish is served with a generous dot of caviar, and surrounded by the delicate flavours of fennel, cockles, combava and parsley.
Langoustine is served in two servings. The first one is cold, with acidic and herbal flavours of citrus and flowers. It is followed by a warm, huge langoustine, with lightly sweet flavours of carrot.
In game season, don’t miss the partridge “PX” preparation. The wild bird is cooked sous vide with a goose fat, and shortly baked afterwards. In the plate it is accompanied by figs, Jerusalem artichoke and an amazing sauce with Sherry.
The dessert “Green herbs” is a signature preparation of the chef. It combines fresh herbs with salted pistachio, sorrel and basil. A wonderful end of a great meal.
Other dishes from the autumn menu:
Service And Wine
At Altermezzo, Jo is surrounded by a dynamic and skilled team. One of the main roles goes to his wife Lana, who leads the dining rooms. She does so in style and with familiar yet discrete flair. Wines are presented by sommelier Rudy Schurmans, who gained experience at the former two Michelin star restaurant Luc Bellings in Hasselt. Rudy offers two interesting wine pairings to complete the chef’s tasting menus: a “Wine Lovers Pairing”, with nice discoveries and a great price/quality ratio, and a “Seasonal Top Selection”, with premium wines served in wonderful Zalto glasses. During our visit, this top selection was called “The French Collection” and included some great references like a Montagny “Audiacieuse” and the Beaune 1er Cru “Clos du Roi”.
Restaurant Altermezzo is a modern fine dining restaurant where young and ambitious chef Jo Grootaers serves contemporary, refined dishes, based on seasonal, luxurious ingredients. The culinary delights are served by a highly professional team in a setting that is both spacious and relaxing. Indeed, there really isn’t any reason not to go!