Restaurant Raven – Best place to dine in Antwerp

It’s easy to understand why diners go back to Restaurant Raven in Antwerp. Chef Gert-Jan takes care of his customers as much as he takes care of their food. He sits down with his diners after his staff had served them their orders and makes small talk with them about things not always related to his restaurant. He listens to their preferences and make sure they are carried out. His staff are knowledgeable about what they are serving, they do not need to go back and forth to the kitchen to ask Chef Gert-Jan the ingredients in his dishes. If you ask, they can easily explain how your food was cooked and recommend a wine that will best go with it. In addition to that, they are very professional and friendly. The ambiance of of the restaurant is very chic but not intimidating to those who can only afford their lunch set menu. At Restaurant Raven, you can enjoy a delicious meal, a good conversation, the hospitality of the staff and the beautiful architecture of the house of the Gilds all in one place.

Restaurant Raven is so far my favorite restaurant in Antwerp.

I first dined there last year when a rude staff from another restaurant demanded me to leave their place because I am only having wine and not dining (oh if he only knows how I drink). Wet and cold from the winter rain, I was very happy to have walked inside the warm, well-lighted restaurant of Chef Gert-Jan and was immediately accommodated. It looked immaculate from the outside, one of the reasons why I was drawn to it in the first place.

Restaurant Raven only opened in 2009 but I will not be surprised if Chef Gert-Jan gets his Michelin star soon. His foie gras in apple and Calvados is unforgettable. One bite and it sends your senses to an orgasmic state. It had been three weeks since I first last had his foie gras but I still can’t get over the sensation that it gave my taste buds. Equally tasty is the King Crab in garlic sauce. I tend to shy away from dishes which has plenty of garlic but this appetizer of Chef Gert-Jan is  irresistible. The staff, whose name escape me at the moment, chose a floral/fruity Argentinian white wine for me which went very well with the crab.

You cannot dine at Restaurant Raven without trying their special amuses. Was it pureed beet root (rode beet)? I cannot recall. What I remember was that I was reluctant to try it when the waiter first served it to me. It’s an acquired taste and a horrible combination of ingredients but after the first hesitation, it can be addicting. Unfortunately, it’s not on the menu.

There are 7 main courses on the menu, very limited if you ask me but just a normal number of selection for a French restaurant. The Texel’s (a Dutch island) lamb and Duroc pig in honey sauce are my favorite. I like my meat sweet and heavy. More often than not, I am not able to finish my main course at Raven. I indulge too much on the amuses and the appetizers. And the wines. They serve very good wines there. So good that I could not remember their variety as I’ve chosen to  get intoxicated by them rather than bothering myself which are which. You can trust the staff at Raven to choose the wine to go with your food.

And the desserts. I have sampled only one but probably their best – Flenjes or crepe served with vanilla butter ice cream, sliced pear (?) and a very sweet glaze. Not recommended for those watching their waist line because the possibility of going for a second is very high. I ended the meal with a glass of muscat.

Just this morning, I received the newsletter of Restaurant Raven. I thought it’s a delicious coincidence because I began writing this blog post last night. Restaurant Raven is adding asparagus to the menu – a seasonal offering. May to July is the season for asparagus and even in my parents in-law’s house in Netherlands, they regularly eat white asparagus every week because it is considered a delicacy.

Me and Chef Gert-Jan Raven

The best news is Chef Gert-Jan is turning 40 this year! He did not elaborate when exactly but to celebrate this, Restaurant Raven is offering a 40 year Jubileum Menu for only 70euros per person, available from Tuesday to Friday for lunch and dinner. Happy birthday Chef Gert-Jan! Cheers for many more years of excellent cooking.

A quick guide for you my dear readers if you happen to choose Restaurant Raven for your next lunch or dinner in Antwerp.

Your view of the Grote Markt from Restaurant Raven

Price – Main course ranges between €24-65 and appetizers from €20-25. A wine arrangement will set you back €45 if I am not mistaken so if you are dining with two or three people who likes drinking wine, I suggest to order a bottle instead. They offer set menu, lunch for €30 and dinner for €70. You can also opt for the set menu with wine arrangement if you are not sure which ones to order.

Ambiance – Fine dining, very classy and perfect for a romantic evening or just a quite dinner. There are not too many tables inside the restaurant but there is an extension which can accommodate at least 25 people. The second floor needs a bit improvement but it is use mainly for functions.

Quality of food – Excellent! Limited selection but big on flavor. The appetizers alone are worth every penny you will spend there.

Restaurant Raven
Grote Markt 14
2000 Antwerpen
tel. +32 (0)3 233 28 33

P.S. Unfortunately Restaurant Raven has closed its doors already and was replaced by a restaurant serving Belgian fares.