“You’re invited to a special Go Wild dinner for the press.” I re-read the email several times looking for the catch. I couldn’t find one. I returned my RSVP before they figured out they invited the wrong person. (Yes, sometimes I still question the influence of CheeseWeb. It’s a strange life.)
Most days I open my inbox to discover a pile of spam and a mountain of emails that require some sort of effort on my part. So when I happen upon an email offering me something, with no strings attached, it’s a very good day indeed.
I had been to the Hotel Bloom’s restaurant, Smoods, quite a few years ago. I remembered loving the fun and funky decor and upbeat vibe, but the food was less memorable. I was more than ready to give it another chance.
I roped a friend into coming along to the event with me (and let’s face it, with my friends, not much roping is required, for a good meal) and we were impressed by what we discovered.
Smoods looked more or less the same, from what I remembered, but it seems many changes have gone on behind the scenes, including a new and welcoming General Manager, a new team in the kitchen and loads of new menu ideas.
After being welcomed by the team, we made our way to the bar. There we were greeted with a “Wild Cocktail”, the Robin Hood, a generous combination of Campari, gin, bitter lemon and Limoncello, topped with an orange twist and a fresh strawberry. It was tall, not overly sweet and packed a punch.
While we sipped, and snacked on wasabi chips, we examined the new menu. With 6 starters, 10 mains and 4 desserts, there was plenty to choose from.
The Go Wild menu is inspired by, you guessed it, wild game. Belgian autumn ingredients like pheasant, wild boar, quail and venison feature prominently. There is, however, another, more subtle source of inspiration – street food. To make the game meats less intimidating, they are paired with well-loved street food favourites like gyros, pizza, waffles and the Belgian favourite, Mitrailettes.
With our drinks drained, and decisions made, we headed for our table. We opted to split a starter and, as my companion can’t eat gluten, we chose the Mixed Salad with Candied Quail Leg and Chicken Liver. When it arrived, we were glad we decided to share. The salad was plenty big enough to make a light meal for one.
The greens were fresh and crispy. The dressing was very light and bright. There was a nice smoky flavour coming from thinly sliced grilled sweet potato. The stars of the dish were the perfectly cooked chicken livers, giving the whole dish a nice richness without being heavy.
For the main course, I opted for Venison meatballs filled with pear and blueberry sauce and potato croquettes. In fact, it turned out to be one large meatball on a puree of potato and possibly Jerusalem artichoke, with the croquettes and cubes of pear. The puree was surrounded by the (very lovely) sauce. The dish was excellent with only one slight niggle. As venison is very lean, the meatball was a bit dry (even though it was nice and pink inside). If the sauce had been on the meatball itself, it would have been fine. However, the sauce was soaked up by the puree instead; a minor detail on an overall good dish.
We had a bit of a mishap with my companion’s dish, but to be fair, it was because of our own ignorance. She opted for the Mitraillette of venison with fries and celeriac. For those of you familiar with the Mitraillette, you may be wondering why my gluten-free friend opted for a sandwich. Neither of us being be sandwich eaters, we weren’t aware the French word for ‘machinegun’ is a Belgian term for a baguette sandwich. Whoops.
In any event, the venison was nicely cooked and the fries were good (but not as good as Friterie fries).
Both portion sizes, as well as all of the dishes we saw coming out of the open kitchen, were very generous. So much so, we had no room for dessert; a pity, as our neighbours’ Moelleux au chocolate looked divine.
When I returned home to CheeseWeb HQ, Andrew snapped up my copy of the menu. When he spotted the Young boar pita gyros with candied chestnut mayonnaise, I knew I’d be returning. That’s fine with me, as I’m keen to sample the Brussels waffle with caramelized apple and wild duck whipped cream.
If you are tempted by the Go Wild menu, it will be featured at Smoods until the end of the game season. If you are a street food fan, 2013 will be your year, as Smoods will host an international street food chef to create new street themed menus.
Have you been to Smoods lately? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
For more great restaurants in Belgium and beyond, check out our Restaurant Review page.
We at CheeseWeb would like to thank the team at Smoods for inviting us to this lovely evening and allowing us, as always, to express our opinions freely. All photos were provided by Smoods and retain their copyright.