Since its move to the new location in the center of Antwerp, restaurant Zilte has steadily risen to the top of the gastronomical scene in Belgium. It’s easy to understand why. In a highly sophisticated and elegant venue, a young yet ambitious staff serves the guests a cuisine that explores the diverse timbres of the sea and the land. It’s all topped with impressive views on Belgium’s most vibrant city, Antwerp.
Concept & Interior
After a name change from ‘t Zilte to Zilte, in 2020, the restaurant made a move to the other side of the ninth floor of the architecturally remarkable MAS museum in the heart of Antwerp. The MAS defines itself as a ground-breaking museum and is an extraordinary building in its own right, occupying an extraordinary site in an exceptional location offering sweeping views on the city and the Scheldt river, the vital artery for the Port of Antwerp. And as ‘mas’ means ‘more’ in Spanish, that is exactly what you can expect at Zilte.
The move was the perfect occasion to completely rethink the interior of Zilte to make it truly unique. Wood elements dominate the scene and form a delicate balance with earthy, calming tones. Playful details like a distinctive marble bar and a vintage record player, which is actually used to welcome the guests, complete the picture. But there is more of course, like the food…
The Chef & the team
Chef Viki Geunes and his wife, hostess Viviane Plaquet, need no introduction after nearly 20 years at the helm of Zilte restaurant. Viki Geunes started his gastronomical career at restaurant De Watermolen (Kasterlee), but quickly moved on and established his own restaurant. At Zilte he offers a product-centric cuisine together with his team. They present recognisable ingredients processed in diverse and complex ways, where vegetables and (local) fish play the main roles. The menu offers à la carte dishes, a tasting menu and a vegetarian menu. In 2021, restaurant Zilte received its third Michelin star, entering the highest regions of the culinary world.
In the dining room, hostess Viviane and daughter Gitte Geunes ensure everything is running smoothly, mixing a professional demeanor with a casual style that is befitting of a family business operating at this level. Sommelier Aaron Moeraert manages the wine cellar, which has been given a prominent place via a glass wall, overlooking the restaurant. With a clear vision and much attention to the palette of every customer, he juggles between classic big names on the extensive menu and fresh suggestions. The fact that a number of top wines and vintages (such as château d’Yquem 2005) are also available by the glass proves that a lot of attention is paid to delight the customer’s palette.
In the plate, we taste a sea-inspired philosophy that has clearly been further refined and gained maturity over the years. Here too, the story that the chef wants to write begins and ends with the product, but the chef has mastered the art of using sometimes complex combinations to make the product speak even louder. A refreshing combination of north sea crab paired with papaya, is a particularly delicate and balanced opener. From there it goes crescendo in terms of flavor intensity with a few highlights being the refined langoustine combined with lardo chanterelles and celeriac.
Oosterschelde lobster is paired with laquered carrot, yuzu kosho and dade. The latter adds a refined sweet and sour twist to hit an oriental inspired note during a great lunch.
Next up is turbot, deliciously combined with Zucchini and stuffed mussels.
Another standout dish is the Imperial Heritage Oscietra caviar, which, as a private chef’s selection, received its own accents in terms of maturation and pairs particularly well with the Roscoff onion, squid and hazelnut.
Sample degustation menu:
Towering high above one of Belgium most visit-worthy cities, Zilte combines a unique, exceptional location with a creative, inventive, product-driven kitchen that offers dining at the very highest end of the spectrum. Visiting Zilte is a gastronomical trip for culinary lovers where every piece of the puzzle is arranged to create a dining extravaganza to remember.
Pictures previous visits: