Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Beer, Chocolate and a Whole Lot of Eating

Ahh, beer.

I went to Bruges last weekend. A lot of beer was consumed. Not as muh chocolate as I thought, but that's not to say there wasn't any to be had - it was abundant - I'm just not much of a sweet lover, thank god, or I'd be the size of a house.
Bruges is a lovely town. Only 3 hours by Eurostar from London, they call it the 'Venice of the North' apparently. We arrived early on Friday and was immediately struck by the prettiness of the cobbled streets. Horses pulled carriages full of tourists round the square, and we were blessed with great weather. So much so, we even got burnt on Saturday whilst having lunch outside.

The food was amazing. We tried all the specialities like eel in green sauce. It was quite an interesting dish, the eel was chopped up and cooked in the sauce which comprised mainly of herbs. You also got a dish to sling the eel bones in, so it was quite a fiddly process.

We tried to get as many speciality dishes in as possible. To be fair, we did well: Waffles, mussels and chips, and Carbonade Flamande (Flemish Beef Stew) were all consumed with relish. It was only the 'waterzooi', a fish or chicken stew made with cream, that we missed out on.

Knowing that Bruges is a touristy town, I did a fair bit of research. There's nothing worse than being really excited about a meal only to discover it's a complete tourist trap, so armed with some excellent advice I booked tables at Den Dyver and De Visscherie.

Den Dyver is advertised as being a beer specialist. Lonely Planet called them 'afficionados' and I have to say that I agree. We went for the 3 course menu with matching beers. After an aperitif of beer, we got an amuse (which unfortunately I didn't photograph - too hungry).

To start, I had calf sweetbread in an orange crisp with jerusalem mash and bitter chocolate sauce. This was the first time I've had sweetbreads and it was great. It was a pillowy texture inside, balanced well with the orange crumb.

Monkfish was my main, with a white asparagus terrine, pea puree and matchstick potatoes. The cheese course was definitely strange; it was served with a sweet, dense ginger bread with a mustard icing. It was a bit mind-boggling, but the flavours worked well. Each time we had a different beer to match the food. Mainly Trappist beers with an average of 9%, we were pretty squiffy by the end of it.

We were wondering how Saturday's meal was going to turn out, given that we were off to such a flying start. De Visscherie stepped up to the plate.

The menu we went for was the tasting menu, with special focus being asparagus. I've never had white asparagus before and I prefer it to green. Shame I've never seen it on sale. The service was faultless, the presentation was amazing and the food tasted just as good as it looks

I was well-fed; mussels, monkfish, sweetbreads, caviar and the rest of it.

Unsurprisingly, I returned to London broke, but 4lb heavier.


aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Wow - what a great gastronomic trip! The Belgians know what they're doing, don't they? I haven't been for years, but certainly remember not holding back with the moules frites, or gauffres. I'll have to go back and check out those restaurants now!

David Hall said...

Brilliant! Looked like a load of fun Lizzie.

I've added the dim sum story to the Blog with links, check it out


Great Big Veg Challenge said...

Where did you stay?

Lizzie said...

The belgians certainly do know their stuff. I had to look up what gauffres were ;)

Hi Charlotte,

We originally got a booking at the Kempinsky, but as it didn't open in time we were relocated to the Relais Ravestein which was brilliant. There are some very good deals on

Antonia said...

What a great way to spend a weekend! I loved Brugges when I visited - so pretty. I'm not a huge beer lover but really enjoyed the food. I did try Waterzooi which was really good. Really hope to go back sometime soon.

Ino said...

I can't believe I hadn't seen this post all this time!
We went to Bruges last summer and I am keen to break the never-visit-a-place-twice rule and go again; I absolutely loved it. Very expensive in general, apart from the waffles from the vans next to the river, which were yummy and cost about 1 euro.
And we brought so much beer back with us- even my gluten-intolerant friend couldn't resist a glass of Barbar!