Over the years there have been a handful of restaurants that have made my special ‘bucket list’. A restaurant worth travelling to and on my list was The Jane, Antwerp. We had flown in overnight from Toronto, without sleep to Brussels. Our bags never made it, we had to drive over an hour to Antwerp and have dinner in dirty clothes as I was definitely not going to miss the experience or opportunity of dining here. We were only in Brussels for two nights and The Jane was only open the first night we arrived.
Since its opening in 2014, The Jane has earned a name for itself by earning two Michelin stars by 2017. It truly is one of the more remarkable dining experiences, located off the beaten path, in a quaint suburb of Antwerp, set in a beautiful and unique building. The building was a former military hospital and chapel from the 19th century that has now become a modern shrine, where food is their religion. I am in no doubt, it is one amongst the most architecturally beautiful restaurants in the world.
We were warmly greeted on the terrace with a cool drink before we entered the completely renovated ancient building. We knew we were in for something special the moment we walked into the restaurant by the feeling we had on arrival. Chef and owner, Nick Bril has built a temple of gastronomy that was certainly worth the trip for us.
The restaurant is stunning, with all tables having a view into the open glassed kitchen. Sliding electric doors open on either side of the busy kitchen. Stained glass windows throughout the former chapel were newly designed and whimsical with pictures of devils, skulls, babies, spatulas, birthday cakes, penguins, etc. New age music plays in the background. Music plays a heavy role here, with a completely immersive sound experience. The music is like a waterfall, more intense upstairs in the lounge, with the full range travelling down to the diners in the restaurant. A vast modern chandelier that weighs 800 kilograms is the focal point of the restaurant. White tablecloths, well spaced tables, luxury plates, rich pure materials like natural stone, leather and oak wood are used throughout. It’s no wonder The Jane won the best restaurant and bar design award and numerous other awards. It also made number 23 on the World’s 50 best restaurant list for 2022.
They serve a set menu that is mostly fish and shellfish. Chef Bril, pays tribute to the French classics but also draws inspiration from Asian street food culture. He has amazing talent and imagination and each dish that was served was beautifully composed that demonstrated his meticulous culinary techniques. Dinner was ten courses, very detailed and exquisite, and was served over 3-4 hours.
Out back, urban farmers cultivate vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers on the roof of an old warehouse, that are used in the dishes served. There is an extensive wine list, with both new biological wines as well as renowned old world labels. You can opt for wine pairings if you wish. I highly recommend trying one of their table-side cocktail concoctions. The sommelier was young but exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful. (He reminded me of Michael Jackson, with his short, black pants and one white glove).
There is a sense of entertainment and theatre to The Jane, where fine dining meets rock and roll. It’s subtle and not overdone. It was an outstanding dinner, with a perfect backdrop. Chef Bril is successfully setting new standards for gastronomy and The Jane is certainly one of the most glamorous and trendiest restaurants in Europe, but also a world class dining experience.