Hortense and Humus, <br> a Place Full of Flavours and Colours

Hortense and Humus,
a Place Full of Flavours and Colours

Let’s please our taste buds and start a food exploration in Europe and especially in Brussels, its capital city! At Hortense and Humus, it all started with the partnership of two inspired gourmets. On one hand, Nicolas Decloedt, the “botanist” chef from the table d’hôte Humus Botanical Gastronomy. On the other hand, Mathieu Chaumont, the mixologist from Hortense who made these walls – which used to belong to La Mercerie – an unavoidable place in Brussels. In this world worthy of a green theatre, between Liberty inspiration and resemblance to English tea rooms, they take us to audacious and tasteful discoveries. There, vegetables have the place of honour. In all possible and imaginable forms, staged in three services. Roasted beetroot, purples salsifies, buttermilk vinaigrette: Nicolas keeps inventing multiple combinations with Hortense and Humus. To go with them, no wine but cocktails. Well, obviously. By the way, they’re also seasonal. Like in a ping-pong game, the two associates imagine together a liquid and solid evolutive cooking which follows the seasons step by step. Hortense and Humus enthrals and surprises us, both in the plate and through the artistic direction, run by Caroline Baerten in a setting designed by Anne Goldschmidt.

Hortense and Humus,  2 rue de Vergnies – 1050 Bruxelles

Salle principale restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Plafond Salle principale Style liberty Lustre Luminaire Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Salle principale Végétation Table Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Salle principale Végétation Table Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Salle principale Banquette bleue Chaises de bistrot Table Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles

Nicolas, who is behind Hortense and Humus?

Nicolas

Hortense and Humus is a common project. Mathieu Chaumont, mixologist, and myself, in charge of the cooking: it’s a true partnership. Caroline Baerten is the artistic director, in charge of the atmosphere, the plants, etc.

Why did you choose this name?

Nicolas

We kept the two names of our precedent projects. On one hand, the “Humus” from “Humus Botanical Gastronomy”, tables d’hôte for 4 years. On the other hand, “Hortense”, which is the name of the cocktail bar Mathieu has managed for 5 years in the Brussels city centre.

Can you tell us a bit more about your cooking concept?

Nicolas

At Hortense and Humus, we create a platform for top-level market gardeners and artisanal producers. It’s a seasonal cooking. We pay tribute to producers and to the product. A tribute to vegetables, they are more than a simple side dish. In the meantime, we offer a contemporary, light and very creative cooking.

Cocktail Bouteilles Échelle en bois Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Salle principale Rangement plantes et livres Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Bouteilles alcool design Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Plafond Style Liberty Végétation Salle principale restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Salle principale Décoration Chaises de bistrot Murs liberty Banquettes bleues restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Luminaire Salle principale Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Salle principale restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles

Indeed, vegetables have the place of honour. Why did you choose to focus on them?

Nicolas

Their colours, textures and tastes are very diverse. It’s very interesting to imagine our menu around this! The techniques we can work on them are multiple. There is so much to do that we have fun working on them.

Do you have key dishes on your menu?

Nicolas

Every year, I’m very happy when it’s the season of white asparagus. I work on a very specific specie, grown in the fossil dunes at the border of France and Belgium. Its taste is between bitterness and natural sweet, it’s quite fascinating. Every year, I want the approach to be different. There is nothing fixed on the menu. It keeps evolving.

Can you tell us about your cocktails and the mixology part of it?

Nicolas

As opposed to wine, which is a final product, we create the cocktail – and it’s an advantage. So we can go exactly where we want to. We both worked on their realisation and use the same products in our dishes and in our cocktails. We are really careful and try not to waste anything. For example, we can infuse carrot tops instead of throwing them away.

What inspires and influences your cooking?

Nicolas

The main influences and inspirations mostly come from the world of art. Music – Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Godspeed You Black Emperor-, literature – Peter Verhelst, Umberto Eco, Stefan Hertmans – and fine arts – Jeff Wall, Bill Viola, Mark Rothko and Robert Mapplethorpe. I always want my preparations to be as pure as possible. Scandinavian and Japanese influences are never far.

Salle principale restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Pierre précieuse Décoration Étagère rangement Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Rangement Salle principale Alcools Livres Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Rangements Cocktails et pots transparents Salle principale restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Rangement Alcool Bouteilles Bar Salle principale Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Table de deux Salle principale restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles

Can you tell us about the setting? Who decorated it?

Nicolas

The decoration was made by the former owner, Anne Goldschmidt, who designed it for her tea room. Now Caroline is in charge of it. She works on fashion, takes care of the plants and she also makes pottery. So obviously she was in charge of everything related to crockery and ceramics here!

What is this green installation?

Nicolas

It was designed by Thierry Boutemy, especially for this place.

 

What are your future possibilities and projects?

Nicolas

We want to improve the experience of our guests. To refine our work in the kitchen, behind the bar and in the service, so they would feel more comfortable, like home. We want to be a quality restaurant, both as a restaurant and for cocktails.

Décoration Salle principale Tables et chaises bistrot Plafond Liberty Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Bouteilles Alcool Bar Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Banquette en cuir bleu Chaise bistrot Salle principale Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Coin banquette Salle principale Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles

We both worked on their realisation and use the same products in our dishes and in our cocktails. We are really careful and try not to waste anything.

Bar Salle principale Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles
Mur carrelage vintage Luminaire Opaline Salle principale Restaurant Nicolas Decloedt Hortense and Humus Bruxelles

Credits : Eve Campestrini @thesocialitefamily

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