Located in the basement of the Chateau Gravenhof, the Tavern is a hot dining spot. Locals enter through an exterior entrance while guests can take the elevator down to the restaurant. With no luggage we all 4 fit quite snugly into the elevator. You are dropped right in the middle of a huge cloud of smoke. This is no longer a problem since the laws on smoking in restaurants has also gone into affect in Belgium and smokers must be in a separate room where no food is served. Our seat was close to the door and every time someone entered we had a momentary respite with the blast of cold winter air, it helped us to survive. Luckily the second night we were able to enjoy our meal in non-smoking.
I would describe the atmosphere as a caveau. It appears to be a former wine cellar and there is lots of wood and the walls are yellow stucco. You can choose to have the weekly menu, which on the nights we visited was cheese croquet, fish and dessert. Our waitress told us that the weekly special is whatever the chef is in the mood to cook. Alternatively, you can order à la carte. We opted for the latter.
We ate here both nights and we had two very different experiences. The first night we had the terrible smoke but we had a great waitress. We did learn that here when you order well done you get well done, so order accordingly. I had the soup, which was green and was either pea or green bean (we couldn’t quite figure out which). Along with it, we were served a basket of whole grain bread. We sampled the lamb with rosemary, prime rib and filet mignon. Everything was excellent. My lamb was five chops served with au gratin potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, endive and a rich wine sauce. The portions were generous. The steak came served on a cutting board and the choice of sauces came in little copper saucepots.
Our second evening we all chose the spare ribs and they were fabulous. They are done with a dry rub and served on a cutting board. You can have half a rack or a whole rack. We had a very hard time finishing the whole racks although they melted in our mouths. They are served with French fries (very good ones). Our waiter was extremely rude however and he really affected our whole evening. This was the only rude person we met on our entire trip. It was unfortunate but the meal was so good we let it pass. Of course being a tavern good Belgian beer was plentiful and varied.
Someone had a birthday while we were eating and they played a recorded birthday song while they carried out a cake with a sparkler in the top. We ate here because there really wasn’t anything nearby but frankly, we would return for the ribs again in a heartbeat. They were that good.