I discovered Café Bruges by accident despite dining at the old St. Charles Restaurant many times. As a huge fan of Belgian cuisine, especially Moules Frites, I had to check this place out. It has been a love affair ever since, despite the fact I don’t get to Carlisle as often as I’d like. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. The food is great and the service has been excellent and all smiles from the young enthusiastic wait staff. This has helped to make every dining experience a delight!
First, let’s talk frites…or fries if you wish: The Bruges frites are awesome and worth a trip to the café regardless if you have anything else. Sorry vegans, these babies are twice fried in beef tallow so you may have to pass and order a salad (hold the cheese).
PLEASE Café Bruges, DON’T EVER make them healthy!!
If you want to liven things up, ask for the Asian Spicy-hot Mayonnaise dipping sauce. Don’t worry, it’s not that hot but really livens up frites that can easily stand on their own.
Which bring me to the mussels: So far I have tried the Bruges, the Bruxelles and the Provencal preparations and all were very good. A great portion, a nice dish for the mussels & spent shells and plenty of bread to soak up the broth! I am a huge fan of fennel so I’ll suggest the chef give that some thought as an ingredient in a future prep…
I’m not always mussel-bound so I’ve also tried the Steak Frites which was very good and prepared to my requested doneness, and a soup special which I seem to recall was a pumpkin soup with fresh cranberries and shredded guinea fowl (think chicken) which was so good I wanted it again for dessert!!
Oh yea, the beer selection is excellent if you are fan of Belgian style beer which happily ISN’T all hops and no flavor like many craft brews today. There are many rotating beer specials and tastings available as well for the adventurous beer aficionado.
A word of warning to anyone looking for whispers: The restaurant is a wide-open chic styled space so it can get loud with the enthusiastic crowd of college students, locals and informed travelers like me. However, the layout, décor, and attitude suits Café Bruges perfectly. If you think that every restaurant should offer quiet romantic candlelit dining…you had better stay home.
Another word of warning to the hop devils out there: If you are expecting the excellent beer choices to include quadruple hopped IPA’s, dry porters or pumpkin ales…you had better drink elsewhere.
Warning to the financially conscious which is the politically correct way to say thrifty, which is the tactful version of cheapskate: Take a look at the menu on line and the prices. If you hadn’t noticed, this isn’t Hardees so expect to spend a few bucks on your meal. The prices are not out of line for the quality of the product and the preparation, not to mention fine Belgian style beers. If the price point is beyond your means or desire…you may want to go to Hardees.
A final word to those of you who are unfazed by noise, beer brewed by monks, a dinner check over $50 or beef tallow…
…get there early, the place does get crowded!