While on a recent trip to Belgium, I ended up with reservations at Restaurant Avalon, a 100% vegan dining establishment in Ghent (which is, apparently, the veggie capital of Belgium, if not all of Europe). I didn’t pick the place; instead, it was setup by Flanders Tourism, the organization that brought me out to Belgium in the first place. But oh was it awesome!
Of course, I did some research once I found out about the place from my itinerary. Admission: I actually really dig checking out menus of restaurants online, because of the anticipation involved! And in my searching, I came across a blog that is run by skateboarding legend Ed Templeton and his wife Deanna, We Like To Eat Vegan. They raved about the tempeh Rueben and as soon as I saw pictures and read their thoughts on it, I already knew that’s what I was planning on ordering.
Fast-forward to July 17, the evening of my reservation. I arrived at 7 p.m. and waited for my dining companions to show up as well. There were a handful of other folks eating, but considering Gentse Feesten was going on in the central area of town, I don’t think too many people were eating out at sit-down restaurants off the main streets, so it was a nice amount of people. So I snapped some shots of the interior, then sat down to wait for everyone else.
As I sat, I noticed there are various “rooms” in the restaurant which make for an intimate kind of dining experience, which is a thoughtful touch. I couldn’t quite pin down the vibe of the place though. It felt fancy, but not too fancy, and of course the prices were higher than what I am used to in Berlin, but I didn’t necessarily feel they were too high. After all, everything is more expensive than Berlin.
Once everyone arrived, we kicked things off with a round of Budels Pilsner. Now, I love me a good pilsner, and this was no exception. In fact, it tasted particularly good in my mind, but maybe that’s because it was something new, i.e. not a German or Czech varietal. Plus, I have a love affair with Belgian beers; I have never had one that wasn’t good (well, maybe with the exception of Maes, although I don’t honestly know if that is a Belgian or Dutch beer…but I digress). We all sipped and conversed while looking at the menu, which was full of a lot of creative and interesting sounding dishes. And even though it was in Dutch, I am lucky to speak good enough German that I can read Dutch decently, although by no means fluently.
As planned, I ordered the Reuben sandwich (stylized by Avalon as Rueben), while my dining companions ordered the lasagna and seitan steak. But even though I had seen pictures, I still wasn’t prepared for what was set in front of me.
Seriously, how epic is that?! It was tall, impossible to eat the “normal” way, so I opted for the fork and knife route. And dang, was it delicious! The texture was great and the combination of ingredients and tastes melted together into a lovely blend. The side salad was also good (I love avocados!) and the vegetables were sweet and complementary. The only part of the meal that I was iffy on was the rice, which was somewhat boring, but luckily the other parts more than filled me up, and my appetite was completely sated at the end of the dining experience.
At the end of the meal, I declined a dessert, although someone did order one and I snuck a few bites. But I definitely opted for a coffee, which came with a little vegan pudding. How fantastic! Definitely a delicious end to a delicious meal.