Restaurant Innesto is the restaurant of the domain De Barrier, located on the Grote Baan in Houthalen (Belgium). Domain De Barrier served as a toll booth in the past, but was tastefully renovated some years ago and is now serving as a banquet centre for meetings, events, parties and weddings.
Once inside the domain guests leave the busyness of the big road behind them to find a beautiful park with a big garden, a small lake and the nice authentic premises where the restaurant is located. Restaurant Innesto is an independent entity in the complex and only serves its food to the restaurant’s guests. For parties, meetings and other events, other kitchens in the building are used. The restaurant’s interior is convivial with a robust wooden floor, lots of white, comfortable red dining chairs and contemporary art. After a dinner at Restaurant Innesto guests can also spend the night in one of the ten beautifully decorated rooms of De Barrier complex. The rooms are spacious, clean and romantic and the authentic feeling of the building is well kept while the comfort is modernised.
Koen Verjans is the Chef and Restaurant Manager of Innesto and is one of Belgium’s most promising talents. The Chef was born in 1984, but cooks like an experienced and mature chef and presents inventive, beautifully presented dishes. He learnt the cooking magic in famous restaurants like Oud Sluis, De Librije and ‘t Zilte and presents his own vision on gastronomy in Restaurant Innesto. Koen always chooses top products and prepares light dishes with great attention for a correct acid balance, flavour cohesion, intensity and elegance. A type of kitchen that is quite typical of the Benelux countries, but at Innesto it is executed in an almost perfect way.
The menu at Innesto offers an interesting lunch menu (three courses), a surprise menu (four courses), the recommended Innesto menu (five or six courses) or dishes à la carte. The tasting menus are well balanced and come with an impressive appetiser parade, as well great sweets with the coffee. Prices are correct, indeed: the three-course lunch only costs thirty eight Euros, the five-course Innesto menu seventy Euros. A great price-quality ratio for this type of gastronomy.
The dishes prove that Koen Verjans masters a special finesse and that he has a keen eye for details and great, natural tastes. He employs both the classic as the contemporary cuisine and combines the two in surprisingly light, but complex, dishes. The appetisers come as mini dishes and you will be surprised by the level of complexity right from the first plated served. The contemporary starter with North Sea crab and tuna was delicately balanced with just the right amount of acidity, a lovely chiboust of dashi and citrus and fresh cucumber. Lobster came with Mediterranean vegetables, spices, emulsion of peppers and a tasty juice of bouillabaisse: a dish that is perfectly demonstrating Koen’s talent for a beautiful and detailed presentation, while maintaining a perfect balance in flavours.
At Restaurant Innesto, Koen Verjans is accompanied by his charming girlfriend Sofie De la Rivière, who is responsible for the service and is the Hostess of the restaurant. She welcomes guests in style and will do everything she can to make the guests feel at home. The team at Restaurant Innesto consists out of eight persons in total: five in the kitchen and three in the dining rooms. A remarkable small team for such a great restaurant experience.
Sofie De la Rivière is also responsible for the wines and presents international wines with a great price-quality ratio. Guests can choose between a wine pairing arrangement with the menus, or a bottle from the wine menu. Ask Sofie for a small tour in the beautiful wine cellar, she will be happy to show you around.
Restaurant Innesto is one of Belgium’s most upcoming restaurants and offers a perfectly executed version of the contemporary Benelux cuisine. Koen Verjans is cooking his way to the top and if he and his team succeed to grow and dare to develop their ambition, Innesto might become one of the next top restaurants in Belgium.
Written by Sven & Adriaan