What you don't know when you walk into the fairly ugly
Radisson SAS that houses the restaurant is that you are about to have some
truly memorable fish and shellfish. Ever since Mattagne started cooking here,
he focused on seafood, and developed a style that is characterised by robust
flavours, precise technique and most importantly stunning produce. This is not
food that is showy in any way, nor is it tacky; it is food that is made to
please both the heart and mind, as it is both hedonistic and cleverly composed.
Take a few dishes that are some of his best-known ones. A first course that never leaves the menu is a King Crab cooked on salt and seaweed with a chilli/butter emulsion. In some ways this is as minimalistic as it gets, as you end up with nothing else than the meat of an entire leg of a king crab, and the sumptuously rich butter sauce. The quality, cooking and intensity of flavours of this dish make it absolutely worth every cent of the rather Parisian price tag of €80. When you thought that it was already a seriously impressive starter, another plate appears. A bowl, filled with crab meat, olives and a cheese/potato foam adds another dimension to the dish and brings in a more complex, but equally intense preparation.
One of the dishes that one doesn't find all that often anymore is turbot, cooked on the bone and served with a classical béarnaise. In the Benelux region, a handful of top-restaurants do serve this kind of dish, Hof van Cleve and Oud Sluis among them, which is a rare and delicious treat for any gourmand. The Sea Grill offers just that, a darne of a turbot (normally from 8-10kg beasts) roasted and served with either oyster béarnaise or sauce choron. A few little vegetables on the side, and you have a dish that is captivating to say the least. Due to the fact that it was cooked on the bone, the turbot's meaty flesh is not only incredibly firm and juicy, but has that gelatinous texture to it, which is so rare to find. Combined with the oyster béarnaise this is about as addictive as food can get. Apart from the product quality, and the technical skill that are clearly displayed in this dish, it feels special also for its generous portion. Certainly, one pays €85 for this dish, but the portion served is delightfully large. Contrary to what most chefs in Belgium and the Netherlands are currently doing, Mattagne sticks to what he knows and satisfies not only the head, but also the heart. That in a more ultimate sense is what great cooking ought to do.
As we mentioned the prices here, we ought to add that for those wishing to spend a little less, the lunch menu at €65 offers fantastic value for money. Featuring products such as scallops, cod or red mullet, it is no less attractive than the dinner menu, and showcases a more modern side of Mattagne's cooking.
In a restaurant such as Sea Grill, it is difficult not to be enthusiastic about the food coming out of the kitchen. This is simply some of the very finest seafood in Europe, and possibly the best. Product quality, technique and clearly structured dishes make it stand out in a richly endowed part of the world, as far as food goes.