Situated just ten kilometres from Gent, restaurant Nenuphar in the town of Afsnee is ideal for anyone who wants to switch the busy city life for good food in a green oasis. Its stately mansion with exquisite terrace makes Nenuphar a worthwhile trip, not just for dining, but also for enjoying its beautiful surroundings and the paintings of Gustave De Smet that hang inside the building.
TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN | PHOTOS: NENUPHAR
The first thing that draws your attention when arriving at Nenuphar is its mansion and terrace. The latter mostly for its rustic feel, situated next to the river Leie that used to have waterlilies (hence the name of Nenuphar). It’s not uncommon to see people mooring next to the restaurant if they decide to take a boat trip in the area.
Its mansion was built in 1795 and was always in use as a restaurant, but closed down for four years before Nenuphar took residence. CEO Hugues De Breyne (also responsible for, among others, Café Theatre and Patyntje in Gent and ‘t Klooster in De Pinte) saw time hadn’t been too kind on the building, with its ageing ceilings and floors, but had everything re-done, resulting in a tasteful interior with warm, vibrant colours, and even the paintings by De Smet were restored. De Breyne: “There were nicotine stains everywhere, and since he had created a mural as a payment for having his wedding here, we thought it was only natural to get his work back to its former glory.”
With the authentic feel of its building, the menu follows suit. “We’re famous for our mussels that got a mention in the Michelin Guide, there’s our ‘paling in het groen’ (literally ‘eel in the green’), lovely salads during the summer and game,” says De Breyne. “There’s more to Nenuphar than just a restaurant; we have two meeting rooms available with a digital flipchart, and those spaces can be used for dinner parties and receptions, as well. In 2020, we’re expanding above the restaurant with eight rooms you can rent. Ideal for those who really want to take in the surroundings, because having such a lush setting just ten minutes away from the city is quite extraordinary.”