Restaurant Vrijmoed is located in the Flanders Street in the centre of Ghent, a street known for exclusive shopping possibilities. Several trendy bars and restaurants found their way to this cosy neighbourhood the past few years, and restaurant Vrijmoed is one of the more gastronomical options. The narrow, deep and nice town house where the restaurant is located, was renovated some years before the opening so the team only had to do the redecoration. Today guests discover a warm and classic interior, with modern accessories. The wooden floor and the wooden door frames were retained to ensure authenticity. Brown tones are combined with grey, modern chairs and white tablecloths. Modern artworks adorn the walls. There are two dining rooms and a room with one big ‘chef’s table’. The restaurant also features a nice bar and a small, busy kitchen.
Restaurant Vrijmoed is owned and managed by Chef Patron Michaël Vrijmoed. Michaël got his training at the hotel school in Knokke, gained experience in several restaurants in Belgium and abroad, and started working as Sous Chef at Hof Van Cleve in 2005. For years, he and Chef Patron Peter Goossens worked together to create one of the best restaurants in the world. In 2013 the time was right for a new challenge and Michaël decided to open restaurant Vrijmoed in the centre of one of Belgium’s nicest cities.
In just a few years Chef Patron Michaël Vrijmoed managed to create his own cooking style which can be described as a product-oriented kitchen, where Belgian products, vegetables and Asian influences are important. Michaël wanted to create something different than what is served at Hof Van Cleve and did an excellent job creating his own, light and creative cuisine. The Chef likes to play with textures and chooses for Belgian ingredients without always opting for luxury products. Pickles, pout (North Sea fish), farm chicken, pork rib, and turnip are some examples of great ingredients that do not have to be expensive to be delicious. Michaël Vrijmoed is also part of the North Sea Chefs, an association that encourages chefs, home cooks and consumers to responsibly deal with lesser known species and bycatch, which are respectfully caught.
Around his main ingredients Michaël Vrijmoed creates tasteful, honest dishes like the ‘Mackerel with citrus and eggplant’, ‘Farm chicken with wild mushrooms, Cevenne onion, cockscomb, quail egg, and winter truffle’, or the ‘Pork loin cutlet, Jerusalem artichoke and beetroot’. Instead of opting for a normal cheese tasting, Michaël chooses to create something special with only one cheese. The preparation with Vacherin Mont D’or, orange and mustard lettuce is a nice change from the usual cheese platter and an excellent bridge between the main course and the desserts. These desserts are mostly based on vegetables and also surprise in creativity. The preparation with turnip, apple and sorrel is a good example and is light, sour and a perfect finish for a good meal.
Guests can choose dishes from the à la carte menu, a lunch-menu in three courses, or the Menu Vrijmoed which comes in four, five or six courses. There is also a menu with purely vegetables, also available in four to six courses. Wines are presented by the excellent sommelier Benjamin De Buck. Benjamin earned his stripes at the renowned Oud Sluis of Sergio Herman and has a nose for extraordinary, surprising wines. He is very knowledgeable and will impress the most demanding wine-lovers with his wine pairing or choices from the wine menu. Michaël and Benjamin are assisted by a young and motivated staff and service is correct and professional.
Restaurant Vrijmoed has quickly transformed into one of the best restaurants in Ghent. With a small team (five persons in the kitchen, four in the dining room), Chef Patron Michaël Vrijmoed manages to create a delicious fine dining experience, based on beautiful Belgian products and many vegetables. A virtually flawless cuisine, full of flavours and nice textures.
Written by Sven & Adriaan