Despite being located next to Leuven, which is one of Belgium’s prettiest towns, Couvert Couvert’s location is best described as non-descript. The house looks like every other on a dull street, and it is only when you step inside that you have the impression of being in a completely different place. The dining room is light, somewhat Nordic in style, and yet does not feel cold.
The wine list is an interesting mix of very good wines and an equal proportion of “natural” wines, which are a trend whose merits are debatable at best. That wine service is taken seriously, however, is evidenced by the use of beautiful glasses and a passionate, highly professional sommelier.
When it comes to the food, this is a restaurant that has no ambition to serve incredibly complicated dishes. The food here is reasonably simple, with a main ingredient generally being accompanied by carefully prepared vegetables, and equally convincing sauces or purees.
A perfect example of the cuisine here is a guinea fowl with courgettes. The breast is served topped with a chip of the skin, and on the side half a courgette is served with a few slivers of the same vegetable. This remarkably simple plate of food stands out, as the bird is not only of good quality, but very well timed too. This is not a cuisine that tries to show-off, but rather lets products speak for themselves.
Equally good is a simple nibble of grey shrimp, cauliflower, pomegranate and a shrimp bouillon. This is no more complicated, but the purity and intensity of flavours are what make this a compelling, and surprisingly complex plate of food.
A dish of octopus, tomatoes and smoked mozzarella is less successful. Whilst the tomatoes are surprisingly tasty, the mozzarella is stringy, and lacks flavour. As the octopus is served sliced, and not marinated, it is a little dry. Combining it with the stringy mozzarella, means that you have similar textures, neither of which particularly pleasant. Whilst this is a plate where the overall balance of flavours works, it also shows to what extent product quality and technique can influence the outcome of such dishes.
Couvert Couvert is a restaurant that takes an admirably simplistic approach to cooking. The food served here is bare, and naturalist, relying mainly on the quality of the products used, and the kitchen brigade’s skills. This makes it one of the few restaurants in Belgium to serve such product-focused cuisine.