24 culinary hours in Bruges
Since moving to Bruges, I have been asked by many friends and friends of friends to recommend nice places to eat while visiting the beautiful historical UNESCO town in West Flanders. Everybody is keen in avoiding the mediocre meals served at the overly-priced, badly- serviced restaurants and cafes around the Mark and Burg.
It is proven that the best French fries or “frietjes” in town are served at the two stalls on the Markt square (don’t forget to add mayonnaise!). And with over 50 passionate chocolatiers and more than 100 sorts of biers (“Brugse Zot” to name a cult one), you are certainly not going to starve.
Very few people however know that Bruges is actually a gastronomic mecca for those with finer palates. The city places itself on the menu with an impressive list of first-class restaurants.There are six Michelin starred restaurants and over 30 restaurants with accolades from GaultMillau and Bib Gourmand.
I have compiled a list of my recommended places to eat and am pleased to share this with you. Make your table reservation well in advance and please note that, sadly, some of the best restaurants are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
FOR THOSE WHO DON’T GO LESS THAN 3 MICHELIN STARS
Located in a fully renovated farm in Zedelgem, close to the city of Bruges, where they grow their own vegetables, fruits and flowers, Chef Gert de Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens welcome you to a unique culinary experience of seasonal dishes. Best leave the kids at home. Reservation required.
8210 Zedelgem – Belgium
+32 (0)50 67 34 46
FOR THOSE WHO PREFER ASIAN TO FRENCH FRIES
Best sushi, sashimi and teppanyaki in town. Reservation required. Children welcome although best at lunchtime. As each meal is freshly prepared, meals at dinner are slowly served.
Chef Ivan Verhelle
Oude Gentweg 1
tel. +32 (0)50 34 75 12
FOR THOSE WHO PREFER INDIAN TO FRENCH FRIES
Located on a cute square just off the main shopping street. No need to reserve, although recommended, please be aware the kitchen closes early at lunchtime and dinner time. Not great for late eaters. Children welcome.
Simon Stevinplein 5
+32 (0)50 33 90 25
MODERN FLEMISH WITH ITALIAN HEART
Located along one of the most picturesque canals on the Groenerei, this is a small and cosy bistro offering superlative Flemish dishes and an incredibly good value lunch menu at €16. Reservation required. Meals may be too creative for kids palates, best to leave your little ones at home.
Chef Bruno Timperman
+32 (0)50 69 55 09
CREATIVE FRENCH KITCHEN
Restaurant and Bar in the old town but away from the hustle and bustle of the touristic sites. Reservation required.
Chef Hermes Vanliefde
+32 (0)50 33 41 13
Ellis Gourmet Burgers
Decently priced burgers, good and quick service. Located on a cute square in the old town, off the main shopping street. Unlike many restaurants in Bruges which are often closed during the weekend or shut their kitchens at 2.00 pm or 9.00pm , you can pretty much pop in Ellis at any time and be served a succulent burger. Great for those of you, me included, who cannot get used to the ridiculous Belgian opening hours.
Simon Stevinplein 14
+32 (0)50 80 00 00
BEST FOR COFFEE LOVERS
I Love Coffee
Espresso coffee aficionados must head to the best coffee place in town, Espressobar I Love Coffee. They roast their own beans and offer the perfect cup of coffee. And please, do not ask for “Decaf” coffee, like I did, or you will be thrown out of the shop. If however cannot tolerate caffeine, the bar offers a decent selection of teas and an impressive list of hot chocolates.
+32 (0)498 516 340
OLDEST PUB IN TOWN
Celebrating 500 years this year, a visit to the oldest pub in town is a must.
Since 1515, Café Vlissinghe is hiding in the beautiful historical Saint-Anne quarter. Ideal for a pub lunch inside or in the garden or for a nice beer in the evening. The unique atmosphere and the friendly ambience make Vlissinghe a favorite meeting place for Brugeans and for tourists from around the world. Make sure you ask for Chef Bruno’s signature fish soup. Please note, they only accept payments in cash.
BEST FOR BAGEL LOVERS
First ever bagel boutique not far from the Vismarkt. Friendly service, cosy atmosphere. To take away or sit in. Our favourites are the the classic Lucy (smoked salmon and cream cheese) or the Elliot (Nutella and banana). The bagel salon also offers a couple of freshly prepared salads, quiches and a generous portion of soup.
For a full list of award-winning restaurants in Bruges visit https://bezoekers.brugge.be/award-winning-restaurants
By Paola Fiocchi, Director, Passepartout Homes