Sud-Food of Italy, Brugge

It has been a while since we tried a new restaurant in Bruges, so today we headed to the city centre to have lunch. We had booked a table for two in the small but cosy deli annex restaurant Sud (they only have 6 tables), with an Italian chef from Puglia in the kitchen. We chose the table in the back with a view of the garden and of the kitchen. The table was a bit wobbly, and the noises of the kitchen were a bit disturbing but not too much. They serve a daily changing set lunch menu: one starter and one main course, following the seasons, with mostly organic ingredients straight from Puglia, and home-made pastas. The menu costs 26 euro for both courses or 18 euro if you only take the main course. We took an excellent white wine by the glass from Puglia and some sparkling water. We received some small paprika’s stuffed with olives and anchovy, and small taralli with white wine as appetizers. Taralli’s look like mini bagels but with a whole different taste. I think I will look up the recipe and try to make them at home.

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As a first course we recieved seabass in pork bacon, in a sauce of potatoes and lemon, with fresh mozzarella from Puglia. It looked great and tasted just as good. They use fresh wholesome ingredients, and the appetizer was really original, a refreshing change from the usual standards served in most restaurants. The main course was home-made paccheri pasta, with pancetta and pork sausage, with fennel seeds, slightly spicy, but certainly not too much.

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We asked for a coffee to round it off, but were disappointed with the low quality of the coffee and the cappuccino that in this age of baristas did not even come close to a standard cappuccino, and would certainly not be served in Italy like that.

Restaurant Sud is definitely a very cosy place to spend lunch time. The owners are very friendly  and the food is definitely fresh and tasty, but I am afraid that 26 euro is overpriced for what you get. Or they have to upscale a bit on the decor and food, or lower the prices in accordance with what they serve.

Sud-Food of Italy, Mallebergplaats 5, Bruges 8000, Belgium, +32 50 344562

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Valentine

Few days more ambiguous than Valentine’s day. Created for consumerism, its intents thinly veiled as to make it a special day for your ‘cherie amour’. A cunning trap, Valentine’s day. Do nothing and you don’t care, go along and you are a materialist.

We dreaded booking a restaurant  for the event. The Valentine’s special was going to be overpriced and underinspired, with every dish smothered in symbolism and aphrodisiacs hiding in all corners. Surely shellfish, and  asparagus daringly positioned, something with ginger and champagne sauce and  specks of truffel oil. Who knows what else.

Instead, we drove to Ostend, had a refreshing walk on the beach, cooled off in the silty breeze and then warmed up again over strong Irish coffee. Here I was, with my Valentine sitting right in front of me, her cheeks glowing from the cold morning air and flush from the Jameson whisky. I know I am a lucky man.

The Saturday fresh market was in full swing and it was brisk business as usual at “Luk’s”, arguably one of the best fishmongers in Flanders.  We got some fresh Zealand Oysters and lovely seabass. We asked for the heads and bones, to make a stock, but Luk shook his head; “too fat”, he said. “I have something better for you”, he then smiled and pushed two kilo’s of filleted turbot and plaice in a bag for us. Nothing can beat plaice for making a great fish stock!

We bought ognions, leek, carrots and some sweet pepperoni’s from the fresh market and finished our shopping spree with a fantastic looking heartshaped valentine’s cake (with meringue cream and topped with raspberries.)

We drove home to cook our own Valentine’s dinner that evening. Far away from the city lights, with Jolan and Kathlyn’s jolly chatter for background music and with a bottle of Moutardier champagne to toast on each other’s company.  A quick calculation told us the meal had cost us approximately fifteen euro’s per person. Cheap when compared to the fifty something we would surely have spent in town. Cheap yet priceless. Every day again, and every day more than the last, I cherish the moments when I see the three people I love most on this earth so close to me.  And isn’t that what Valentine’s should be really about?

We finished the evening at the Bruges’ concert hall, where Jordi Saval slowly rocked us into a hypnotizing slumber with his old Celtic music, played on four-hundred year old instruments, a Gamba and a Celloviola. The wild party out, the table dancing, the glitter of limelight and the all night cocktails rave will be for another time.

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#food – f r e s h , f a i r , f a b u l o u s

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This time we looked for a hip, young, tasty restaurant in Bruges for the seventeenth birthday of our daughter, and we found this at #food. Relatively new but with very good reviews on Tripadvisor, #food fills the gap of young trendy restaurants. Bruges counts many good restaurants, and quite a number of michelin stars, but most of them are quite classic in approach (and expensive as well). It is located quite centrally, and quickly filled up on Sunday at lunchtime.We had made a reservation five days before, and the only minus point I can think of, is that they had given away the table at the window we had asked for. When I mentioned it, the hostess immediately asked the couple already sitting there if they minded to move ( they hadn’t ordered yet). It made me feel a bit guilty but they luckily did not mind.

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The restaurant is decorated in a seventies, recycled chic, using simple wooden planks and old cupboard doors to furnish the walls, and nostalgic seventies toys as decorative items.

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The menu is not fancy, proposing bruschettas, soups, burgers, salads, quiches, lasagnas and toasts, all fresh and homemade, using a large amount of fresh herbs and fruits as well as different kinds of salads. All the burgers are homemade and served on brown buns, and you can even try a burger with 30 % of worms and grashoppers in them. There is a good choice for vegetarians, and you can drink homemade lemonade.

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The kitchen is run by Dave, who obviously loves to cook and does it with passion and creativity. He invents a new dessert every now and then, which is named Dave’s Wave, based on the inspiration of the moment. This time it looked like a plant in a pot, but tasted like a yummy dessert. (it is chocolate crumble on top)

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We ordered a plate of Bruschettas as a starter, each of us took a burger and we had Panna Cotta as dessert, while my son tried the Dave’s Wave. The buschettas are simple but really fresh and very tasty. The burgers are really good, with a great salad, while the salads and dishes other people ordered also looked fabulous. The Panna Cotta is good and obviously homemade, the Dave’s Wave looked and tasted great with a lots of fresh fruit.

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#food is a great find and really what we needed in Bruges, we will surely be back!

And you can pay by card!

#food: Oude Burg 30, 8000 Brugge

Tel: 0498 60 34 60, hashtagfood@hotmail.com, http://www.hashtagfood.be

Mo: 12:00 – 20:30
Thu – Sa: 12:00 – 20:30
Su: 12:00 – 16:00

Every day a holiday

During the last fragile hours of my holidays I made a resolution: the best way of not falling back into  boring work routine is through very consciously enjoying every minute of every day and turning each minute into an extension of my holidays.
From now on I make it a point of honour to not let stress and workload spoil my precious time. Don’t laugh! This time I mean it!

And the same goes for eating. Life is too short for bad food, so the quest for exquisite fine dining at affordable prices is on. We just returned from a month travelling through Asia, so our palates are ready for some good old Belgian cuisine again.

And this time we discovered a new spot in our home city. “Bistro De Eetkamer” (Eekhoutstraat 6, Bruges) simple Flemish for “The dining room”. But don’t let the name of this restaurant fool you, the plates leaving from their kitchen are anything but simple. Pretty refined, on the contrary.
But before we discuss the food, let’s discuss the atmosphere. I am repeating myself, but I insist: eating out is an experience that starts at the door.  Our experience in ‘Pomperlut‘, where they basically threw us out because we had arrived 15 minutes late, was still fresh in my mind. Luckily, here they got it right; the host was friendly and quick to help us out of our coats and into our chair. We were early but before long most tables were occupied. Still, to my surprise, the room remained remarkably quiet, and almost reminded me of my childhood, when, at primary school, we were not allowed to speak at the table, until we had finished off our plates. Another surprise, when a group of Russian customers – without prior reservation- came asking for a table, they were politely refused, even if a large table was still free. I wondered if the table was booked and the hosts were stood up, or whether they just didn’t want to risk having noisy customers in the room? Or that, unlikely yet possible, they were happy with the attendance and didn’t want to have more customers. Bottom line, we, the guests, felt a little privileged in our quiet private corners.

OK, about the food then: we opted for the menu of the week because it looked very appetizing and because the à la carte choices were rather pricey in comparison.photo 1 Red Mulet on a ratatouille for starters. The red Mulet is a delicate and tasty little fish and it was prepared with much attention to detail. The same could be said for the duck breast and little potato rosti’s, prepared with a very refreshing Banyuls sauce with slices of pink and white peach.photo 3
The trio of ice cream, chocolate mousse and panna cotta and a perfectly selected glass of Merlot made this dinner a well rounded and much appreciated experience.

At 109 euro, it had not been a cheap evening out, and maybe we would have enjoyed it more if the ambiance had been just a tad more lively, but then again, sometimes a quiet night out, with within sight and earshot nothing more than only the tinkling of cutlery on your plate, sweet words whispered from lips to lips and the smile on the lovely face in front of you, is all there is to desire and these precious minutes culminated in another evening well spent during my everlasting extended holidays back home.photo 2

Quatre mains

What can I say?

Restaurant Quatre mains saved my evening, my day, my year, maybe my life!

Imagine, you take your date, the love of your life, out for a romantic meal to celebrate her birthday, and you are thrown out of the restaurant where you had made a reservation because you showed up a little late! That’s what happened to us and even if it’s Pomperlut’s loss in the end, it did put me in a dire spot momentarily. But by Jove, if you can’t find a decent restaurant in Bruges without prior reservation then something is wrong with Bruges. I offered her a sure winner: the famous Tanuki, a great Japanese restaurant! I knew it would hurt my wallet, but hey, it’s her birthday after all. Las, she was sulking, No go Tanuki-san. Alright, I thought, no panic, let’s just ride our bike and we’ll run into something. Off we went, leaving the beautiful Astrid Park behind us we headed for the grand place. And, sure thing, arriving in the Philipstockstraat we hit one restaurant after the other, each looking inviting but all of them pretty packed. We first tried ” Le petit Grand” Completely sold out but for a few tables on the backyard terrace. We took our chance but quickly regretted it. Nothing wrong with the table, nor with the very friendly waitress, but I could not see us stomach two hours of loud conversation coming from our Dutch neighbors. (especially not when the conversation is about soccer and larded with pretty foul language (“I,m no racist but why must there be so many negroes in these teams!” Say what!?)

A quick dash down the same street we found our safe haven for the night. “Quatre Mains” Just the helping hand we were looking for. “Lunch-Tapas-Wine-Dine” and yes, a table for two, no problemo, follow me’Sir.

Just what we needed. a quiet table, comfortably tucked against a soft green brick wall that radiated the warmth it had accumulated throughout the sunladen day.
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This place, we were to find out, offered everything we had looked for in ‘Pomperlut’, (quality food; the tapas -among which we loved the gambas in sweet cury – the main dish; codfish with risoto and yellow fin tuna steak – yes, I told her she should feel guilty- all prepared to perfection) and on top, they offered us what we were refused at Pomperlut; a smile, some respect, a friendly face.wpid-wp-1404418095261.jpegwpid-wp-1404418095260.jpeg
I said it before and I say it again: Eating out is a holistic experience that starts and ends at the door. Hands up for Quatre mains, No cigar for Pomperlut.