Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Culinary art in a convivial setting: Gastronomic restaurant Menssa is an innovative experience

12:12 08/04/2024
Star chef Christophe Hardiquest talks fresh ingredients, creativity and sharing his passion for eating well with Liz Newmark

Dining at Menssa, a creative, organic restaurant set back from leafy Avenue de Tervuren in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, is no ordinary gastronomic experience.

It is an incredible journey of flavours, from the moment you are seated on plush sofas and served exquisite cocktails and amuse-bouches, to the mouthwatering chocolates served alongside your post-dinner tea or coffee.

The interior decor is also amazing. Forget traditional seating plans and individual tables. A separate room for private parties seats eight, while in the main space, up to 22 diners sit side-by-side on a beautiful circular, undulating walnut wood table. Chefs serve dishes from the middle of this statement counter.


“Eating opposite the chefs, like you often see in Japan, creates a deeply personal and interactive experience,” explains chef-owner Christophe Hardiquest (pictured above). Waiters present each dish with passion and detail, while customer choice extends to your own beautifully crafted knife.

The centrepiece of the restaurant is a stunning carved wooden tree that overhangs the main dining space. Nature has always been important to the chef who hails from the province of Liège. Bringing the outside in is evident in each of the delectable dishes in the five or seven-course menus, with each featuring mainly local ingredients.

These include large green leeks from Huy, Zeeland oyster ice cream, white asparagus “from our friend Stéphane Longlune in Jurbise”, and an incredible Limburg Grevenbroecker blue cheese, voted best regional cheese in the world in 2007. Not to mention Sonian Forest herbs and a Brussels waffle with malted barley, bitter chocolate ice cream and vanilla stracciatella emulsion.


While his main challenge is finding the right staff and paying employers’ contributions, Hardiquest takes obvious pleasure in heading up this dynamic, fascinating and unique foodies’ paradise.

It’s also more important than gaining accolades, even if the chef is enjoying a new Michelin star and a rating of 16.5/20 from Gault & Millau that named Menssa’s ‘Remarkable Brussels Newcomer of the Year 2024’.

“My priority is to share my love of eating well. I enjoy the creativity of the dishes and the happiness, the pleasure of the customers, the amazement when they eat…”

Menssa reflects Hardiquest’s desire to return to essentials. It is the culmination of nearly 30 years’ experience in the trade, after starting his career aged 14 at Namur’s hotel school. Previously heading up the two Michelin-star Bon Bon, he closed this restaurant in June 2022, “following difficulties encountered during Covid and separation from my wife.”


His new venture in the same premises first saw the light of day in February 2023. Hardiquest would like to expand but remains cautious. “First things first. We’re in a world on the move and we’re taking things slowly,” he tells the Bulletin.

“The current situation is complicated and dangerous for entrepreneurs because of the economic crisis and the need to recruit staff,” he says, while praising his “amazing team” of eight talented chefs from all over the world.

Amazed we were. The inventiveness and beauty of these dishes combined surprising ingredients and flavours: pollack, rhubarb and green chartreuse butter;  or ‘Camus’ artichoke confit with carob molasses, spinach and Sakura, which all reflect Hardiquest’s love of travel. As well as visits to Japan, he frequently seeks out “amazing producers” in France and Switzerland.

As for the future, “I love passing on knowledge and experience to young people,” he says, also hoping that new chefs will be more aware of the basics, hard graft and nature. “What I enjoy least in my career is seeing the injustice to craft and know-how. Society is moving in the direction of show-off and we’re forgetting the hard work of real craftsmen.”


While Menssa certainly contributes to the capital’s culinary credentials, “Brussels will never be Paris or London when it comes to world-renowned gastronomy,” says Hardiquest. He nevertheless has high praise for Belgian customers. “They enjoy eating well and spending money on fine food. Belgians are a global test market. But why not a Menssa Paris or London?”

Lunch menu: €90; dinner menus from €140; alcohol and non-alcohol pairings optional extra.

Avenue de Tervuren 453



Written by Liz Newmark