“I’m delighted to be in Brussels, I feel directly connected to this neighbourhood and its business people,” Herman said on Friday at the inauguration of the establishment on Rue Sainte-Catherine.
Next “to a top-quality butchery and fishmonger’s (Dierendonck and Noordzee respectively), a grocery specialising in mushrooms, the legendary Monk and other small restaurants and stores, we’ve found the spot we needed,” he said.
After guiding his parents’ “Oud Sluis” restaurant to the pinnacle of gastronomy, with three stars in the Michelin Guide, Sergio Herman set himself a new challenge: French fries.
“Making real tasty fries is just as difficult as putting together a sophisticated dish,” he explained. “ For a year and a half, we tested and tasted potatoes with a single objective in mind: preparing exceptional fries with sensational garnishing.”
While the 55-seat Brussels establishment also offers daily specials based on products sold by the neighbourhood’s shops, the concept remains the same: Agria potatoes from New Zealand, cut large with their skins, cooked in a mixture of vegetable oils and served with sauces made in the restaurant (classic, harissa, Andalusian, truffle, Bearn and Tartar). The box of fries with two sauces costs 5.45 euros.
Everyone everywhere likes fries, says the former owner-chef of The Jane restaurant in Antwerp, “but sometimes it’s boring”. He thus came up with unusual side-sauces such as parmesan-tomato-basil, Indian with peanuts, and oriental with ratatouille.
The Frites Atelier chain now has six restaurants – a first three in the Netherlands, and now three in Belgium. A seventh is to be opened in Terminal A at Brussels Airport in six months’ time, he said, adding that he planned to go back to face the stoves again in two years’ time, when he will open his restaurant near Cadzand.