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.
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.