Le Comptoir de Marie, the tapas bar with flavors from around the world

For a counter, it’s a counter: there are 15 seats at the counter (opposite the bar and kitchen, and it’s not wide) and 15 upstairs. Customers arriving after us will even ask, faced with the small size of the place, if “This is the restaurant”. I like to sit at the counter and have a chat with the workers who are working and precisely here, they are friendly and very competent from the outset. Come on, aperitif, I start with an excellent Spanish white vermouth (€10) while, by surprise, Florence quenches her thirst with a non-alcoholic mojito (€10), she will then catch up…

Should you eat a lot for breakfast?

On the plate

The pitch here is tapas, as the intelligent reader will have understood, but they are also producers-artisans who have been the subject (we will quickly understand) of meticulous research. Nowadays, 90% of restaurateurs sing to us “the air of rigorously selected products”, here, it will be true very quickly, while we don’t forget to cook either, so you already know a lot about it before the end ! There is a tapas menu at €70 (6 tapas, one main course, one dessert), but we are assured that, à la carte, we will be able to order and recommend at will, depending on our appetite.

Dead end on the menu, so we start by ordering 5 tapas (priced from 5 to 20 €) to share. A seemingly banal appetizer very quickly sets the tone: a gazpacho in which we can see that the chef roasted the peppers, did not thicken the bread and – this will be the common thread of this September evening – used damn tomatoes. Then it rolls in mode rapido pero no demasiado. Pan de cristal (crispy bread) with a devilishly flavorful tomato purée, jamon bellota (served with delicious salted almonds), of which you could only eat the polyunsaturated fat with acorns eaten by pigs, anchovies from Cantabria (Florence , pretending my weak love of fish tries to grab everything, while the real anchovies, I rush on), king prawns so XXL that they look like lobsters, with stewed tomato again, croquetas of rich and powerful beef cheeks, added a kind of pepper ketchup, perfectly in symbiosis with the crispiness of the breadcrumbs and the tenderness of the stuffing.

We catch our breath, okay there is little (and still!) cooking, but the sequence is perfect and we feel behind the festive joy of this cuisine, probably not creative, a rigor where we put ourselves really in the customer’s mouth and mind. Moreover, we continue with a very prepared preparation, an onion tatin, Manchego sheep’s cheese ice cream, impeccable in terms of contrast of textures and flavors, however – Florence watches – a bit too sweet in terms of the dough. We wash it down with an amber amontillado, fresh as it should be, not for all mouths, admittedly, but with oxidative notes that add flavor to the taste of our tapas.

Five tapas later, we still have a little appetite, enough to share a dish. We hesitate, we procrastinate, we change our minds. We finally take a simple pure fillet of beef, cooked unilaterally (above, not below), served with a delicious juice, porcini mushrooms and patatas bravas inflamed by a smoked paprika mayo. Bim! The chef – who welcomed us – takes the welcome initiative of serving us this dish (which we intended to share) on two plates, the attention is appreciated. The dessert takes us back to Belgium (a minute white lady with a chocolate crumble, a model of its kind) and leaves us sated without excess, just enough.

In pictures, discover our menu:

Verdict?

We ate very well here, at a lively (but not furious) pace that I appreciate more and more at a time when we often fall asleep between two courses; and above all for a very measured addition, given the quality (and price) of the products used. We got away with it, without having gone through the menu, but largely satisfied both in terms of the taste buds and the appetite with a bill that seems to us at this level incredibly modest: €133. We will come back!

The address? 8 rue d’Enghien, 7000 Mons, lecomptoirdemarie.be

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