Friday 6 July 2007

Le Mess, Boulevard Louis Schmidt, Brussels

Upmarket French restaurant spread over several floors of a former military barracks perched on the side of a noisy six-lane-carriageway. Inside, the traffic fades away, the decor is tasteful and restrained and the service polished and well-paced. To start, the light Montagne de carpaccio de filet de boeuf en salade, accompanied by sirop de tomate and chips de prosciuttons, has a wide variety of flavours, well-balanced to complement each other. But the Carré d'agneau en croûte de pain d'épices main course is less-appealing - the richness of the sauce isn't sufficient to make up for the disappointing tiny rack of red meat, which is barely worth the effort required to prise it off the bone, while the accompanying gratin of sweet potato is bland. The Fruits frais de saison for desert is a better effort thanks to the plump, crisp fruit and the creamy, rich topping. While the main courses aren't exactly filling, they are fairly priced at 13 euros to 23 euros and the deserts good value at around 6 euros. Le Mess pulls in plenty of Eurocrats and locals on a mid-week evening even though Brussels is packed with alternative gastronomic experiences. 6/10