Upper Room Bar – The Jane – Antwerp

Everybody has heard of The Jane, a fantastic restaurant located in an old church, run by famous chefs Sergio Herman and Nick Bril. Spectacular food in spectacular surroundings. But have you also heard of the bar on the first floor called, the ‘Upper Room Bar’, managed by a spectacular bartender called Paul Morel? Well, you definitely should have! 
Paul Morel at The Upper Room Bar in The Jane
Paul Morel at The Upper Room Bar in The Jane

The Skull

It’s the first thing you see when you walk into the restaurant room and it’s beautiful. (Did I say, we really like skulls at The Cocktail Nation?) Sitting there, staring at you, in it’s radiant blue light. Where once a Jesus hang, not staring at you, but staring slant at his right foot as usual. Right underneath it, the altar, in this case: the kitchen, visible for everybody, the place where Sergio wields his scepter. So, when you’re there, turn on your heels 180° and look up. That’s the Upper Room Bar. Now hurry up that stairs, before every seat is taken.

The Skull above the altar, in this case: the kitchen
The Skull above the altar, in this case: the kitchen

Paul Morel and tattooed mini kitchens

So, have a seat, enjoy the view. It’s good, isn’t it? Now prepare for very extraordinary cocktails spawned from the mastermind Paul Morel. Mr. Morel started his career at Sergio Herman’s other star restaurant, “Pure C”. It was there that Paul learned everything concerning tastes, textures and techniques. His teacher was none other than chef Syrco Bakker. When Sergio and Nick created The Jane, Paul was asked to be head bartender.

The little kitchen standing in the middle of the bar, look closely and you can see the tattoo designs
The little kitchen standing in the middle of the bar, look closely and you can see the tattoo designs

This man really loves Michelin Star kitchens. And it shows in his cocktail making philosophy. The bar itself is built around a tattooed mini kitchen. You take a seat and place your hands on a beautiful brown marble bar. For some reason it reminded me of those Japanese restaurants where they chop the fish into confetti right in front of your eyes.

Beer and wine cocktails

Paul’s cocktails are conceptualised as dishes, not only mixing drinks, but also almost always mixing textures, adding fresh herbs and edible flowers. Eye pleasing and palate challenging. We had a beer cocktail with ‘Duvel Triple Hop‘, passionfruit and Arabian herbs. A surprising and fascinating combination, although we wouldn’t refuse a little bit more Duvel in it.

Moments before that we were given the chance to taste the wonderful ‘Goudenband 2004‘ beer by the Liefmans brewery. Brewed by our first female brewmaster, who recently turned 90. A very nice ‘old brown’ beer, fruity, woody and a little sour.

Our next cocktail was very interesting: rosé wine infused with spices and herbs poured over a ‘pastille’ of bergamot. Simple, elegant, eye pleasing and yet very challenging in flavours. Very nice.

The rosé cocktail, to the right you can see the pastille before the wine was poured in.
The rosé cocktail, to the right you can see the pastille before the wine was poured in.

Stars vs Skulls

Well we don’t give Michelin stars. I wouldn’t know if there was an equivalent for bartenders, but if the Nation could choose it would hand out Skulls!

A toast to The Jane
A toast to The Jane…skoll!

2 Skulls for the Upper Room Bar. The Jane & The Upper Room Bar: Site ‘t Groen Kwartier, Paradeplein 1, 2018 Antwerp (Berchem).

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