restaurant review #114 – Agua del Mar is one of the two restaurants in the Kursaal of Ostend, with a nice view on the beach promenade and the North sea. We originally planned on going to the other restaurant, situated above Agua del Mar, the Ostend Queen, as we had seen in this facebook post that they offer a gastronomical vegan menu. Unfortunately, since the beginning of 2017, Ostend Queen has stopped taking reservations for smaller parties (only reservations for groups of 25 and more!). When telephoning to make a reservation, we were assured that we could just as well have a vegan menu at Agua del Mar (always a vegan option standardly available), and that it is the same chef for the two restaurants, and that he could also come up with a vegan suggestion a la minute. So we were happy to make the reservation at Agua del Mar! (Update see below)
We were here for lunch on a Saturday. Despite it being a school holiday week, there weren’t that many tables occupied (besides ourselves, only two other tables). Agua del Mar is a spacious place, with a nice bar and tables are placed spaciously apart. The entrance is at the southwestside of the Kursaal, with a view on the promenade and the beach. Unfortunately it was a very rainy day, not a lot of people out, and certainly no weather to check out the terrace.
When receiving the menu card, the waiter pointed out the vegan options: two vegan tapas (chili mushrooms, 6€ and papatas bravas, 5€), buckwheat noodles (15€), and as a main dish quinoa with vegetables. We asked whether the chef could come up with any other vegan suggestions, and after positive feedback from the kitchen, we ordered the tapas and the buckwheat noodles as an appetizer, and a surprise vegan dish as our main course (billed for 21€). Bottle sparking water (50cl) was 6€.
We were served this nice amuse geule: wakame, creme of avocado, cucumber, cherry tomato, and marinated radish.
The main dish was a selection of steamed/grilled vegetables, with a small dish on the side: vegetables and mushrooms and tomatosaus, with an espuma on top. Nice, and although it might look like a small portion, it was way more than enough for me (especially given the rather large portion of buckwheat noodles as an appetizer).
The only vegan dessert was lemon and coconut sorbet (a bit of a bummer though, sorbet … again …). It was very nicely presented, but 10€ for two scoops of sorbet felt way overpriced.
We had doubts about the espuma and the coconut sorbet being vegan (sometimes dairy cream is added to sorbet), but when ordering we were assured several times that there were no animal ingredients in the dishes, and that the staff were knowledgeable about what vegan means.
Overall we had a nice lunch. Service was friendly, but rather reserved polite. On the expensive side though, but I guess one also pays for the setting and the view. And this time we didn’t have to pay ourselves, as we were treated by my mum (thanks again!).
Keep in mind that this is a non-vegan restaurant and – as is always the case in non-vegan restaurants – you cannot escape being confronted with non-vegan life items (like the omnipresence of leather – I even think the table coats were leather, and the dozens of mussels shells stuck to the wall of the toilets).
Toilets were clean, but the tabs and water bassins could do with a good scrub (lots of chalk deposit, making them lustreless).
Agua del Mar, location
Kursaal West Helling zn
— UPDATE: end of 2017 CLOSED —