The restaurant La Grappe d’Or received a Michelin star last week, along with a first green star. Interview with the chef Clément Petitjean.
There’s a new starred establishment just a few metres from the Luxembourgish border. La Grappe d’Or, owned by Clément Petitjean, who recently moved to Arlon, has been awarded two Michelin stars this year: a ‘classic’ star and a green star.
One week after the Michelin ceremony, flowers continue to arrive. That day, a Belgian colleague from Ghent sent a bouquet to congratulate La Grappe d’Or.
Last Monday, at the Red Guide awards ceremony in Mons, Belgium, Clément Petitjean was in his kitchen in Arlon. “We are open from Monday to Friday”, he explains, so there was no question of him being anywhere but in his restaurant. Around midday, he got a call from a friend who is a restaurateur, to tell him that he had just been awarded a green star. In the region, only La Distillerie of René Mathieu had such a star until now.
Solar panels, electric charging stations…
When asked why he thinks he has obtained this distinction, which is new to him, chef Clément Petitjean hesitates… “Perhaps because I work almost exclusively with producers from the Grande Région, we are attentive to our waste, we no longer use sous vide, as we are very careful with plastic. Also, we work with the complete product. Everything is used, or will be used.” A direction that more and more restaurant owners are taking. Perhaps adding to the mix is the fact that his new restaurant has incorporated ‘sustainable’ facilities, such as solar panels and charging points for electric cars.
Similarly, in the dining room, most of the furniture and tableware come from Belgian craftsmen. “We like to promote the local economy, it’s important.”
A regained Michelin star
And then, on that same Monday, he received a second phone call, shortly after the first. This time it was for the star. The ‘classic’ one. The one he no longer had only for one year. There is a good reason for this: since 2007, La Grappe d’Or has been his establishment (a hotel-restaurant that he ran with his partner Monia Aouini), in Torgny, about forty kilometres from there, and the restaurant was already starred. Having closed at the beginning of 2022 to open his new establishment in Arlon in June of the same year, he no longer had the famous star. But the Michelin Guide inspectors were not mistaken: the starred plate remained.
A more modern setting
The atmosphere, on the other hand, is completely different. From old stones, we switch to a modern house. Everything is done for the comfort of the customer from the moment he enters: the car park has a good twenty spaces for a restaurant that has “a maximum of 25 seats”. There are two electric charging points.
As soon as they arrive, customers are comfortably seated in a small lounge for an aperitif, then pass in front of the glassed-in kitchens before arriving in the dining room. Clément Petitjean calls it “the cocoon”. And indeed, the impression of being on a cloud is there: a pastel, soft and warm space filled with light thanks to the immense bay windows which look out onto fields as far as one can see.
“We don’t work for the star”
When asked if he is happy to have his star back, the chef explains: “We are satisfied, together with the team. We work hard. But we don’t work for the star, even if it is a nice reward”, he explains modestly. And with this in mind, for him, there is no question of raising prices. The menu is available in 4, 5 or 6 courses, with prices ranging from 85 to 125 €. There is also a 3-course lunch menu at 58€.
A little starry paradise that will make you feel like you’re on cloud nine…
More information: www.lagrappedor.com
Pictures: Graphisterie Générale