Belgium Unlocked

Belgium's 20 best restaurants and Chef of the Year revealed

Belgium's 20 best restaurants and Chef of the Year revealed
Nick Bril pictured during the presentation of the 2023 edition of the Gault&Millau restaurant and hotel guide. Credit: Belga/ Nicolas Maeterlinck

French restaurant guide Gault&Millau has crowned Belgium's Chef of the Year and published its list of the 20 best eateries in the country, the 20th edition of this kind. Overall, the guide includes more than 1380 addresses. Find out which restaurants made the cut below!

Nick Bril of Antwerp's crown and jewel, The Jane, has been elected Chef of the Year by Gault&Millau, lauded by the editors for his gift for innovation and being a passionate entertainer who "enjoys taking his guests into a separate world of experience."

"This is experiential gastronomy of the very highest level, and a dining experience that we can safely count among the world's best," Gault&Millau-CEO Marc Declerck noted.

After winning the award, Bril wrote on social media that, while the prize goes out to the chef, his achievements are only possible "with a group of people around you who believe in what you stand for," which he noted was taking care of guests. "Therefore, this award might be referred to as 'team of the year' in my opinion."

Discover the top 20 in the map below.

20 years at the top for Hof Van Cleve

His restaurant, which holds two Michelin stars, received a rating of 18.5/20 in the guide, which scores each restaurant using a points-based system, ranking them based on visits from anonymous inspectors. Star chef Peter Goossen's Hof Van Cleve in Kruisem was awarded the highest score (19.5 out of 20) for the 20th year in a row.

"Perhaps his critical sense and eye for detail, product knowledge, expertise and drive to be satisfied only with perfection on a professional level form the recipe for his success. Besides the aforementioned ingredients, his natural geniality and that of his wife Lieve and team unconditionally play a key role," the Gault&Millau website writes about what makes Goossens' cuisine so unique.

Food at Hof Van Cleve. Credit: Gault&Millau

The restaurant's maître d'hôtel Serge Sierens was also given the award for Host of the Year 2023. Alexandru Sapco of La Bonne Chère in the heart of Brussels won the region's prize for Young Chef of the Year.

"Belgium's top gastronomy is growing more than ever, and witnessing this are no fewer than three restaurants with a new score," a statement from Gault&Millau read.

Boury in Roeselare, The Jane in Antwerp and Zilte in Antwerp were given a new score of 18.5/20 and four chef's hats. Restaurants with scores between 13 and 20 receive between one and five toques or chef’s hats.

Brussels-based winners

This year, 125 new addresses won a place in the prestigious guide, which now includes a total of 1,380 restaurants across the country. In Brussels, the highest newcomer on the list was Ivresse in Uccle, which was given a score of 14/20.

Every year, the guide hands out "Annual Thematic Laureates," awarding restaurants a prize per category. This year, Felicità in Waterloo was awarded the prize of Italian of the Year, Old Boy in Ixelles was crowned Asian of the Year and the Dessert of the Year was given to Bozar Restaurant.

Bozar Restaurant's award-winning dessert by Kahlil Mezni combines Passe-Crassane pear, chocolate and ginger. Credit: Gault&Millau/ Gaetan Miclotte

The 'price-pleasure ratio' of the Year for Brussels was awarded to ÖTAP, the food-sharing concept in Ixelles, and the Discovery of the Year in the region went to Entropy on Place Saint-Géry.

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For five years, the guide has also included a list named "POP Casual Dining," which collects the best "casual dining" addresses and now counts more than 488 restaurants for more informal dining (with 93 new addresses added this year). Pinsaci Tu in Brussels was among the top three POP Award winners for 2023.

Find the full Belgium guide and more information about each restaurant here.

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