$$ - Moderate, Belgian, Cafe

Cafe Bruges

Posted: July 30, 2016 at 5:01 pm   /   by   /   comments (25)

16 North Pitt Street
Carlisle, PA 17013
Cafe Bruges

Located in historic downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Cafe Bruges serves authentic Belgian cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere.   The menu includes traditional Belgian fare such as mussels, frites, and waffles, as well as casual favorites like burgers and salads.   Cafe Bruges also features an ever-changing selection of Belgian beers and ales, considered to be among the best in the world.

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  • May 8, 2014 at 8:51 pm Nathan

    Went for dinner recently and order the mussels, which any good Belgian restaurant should be known for. After waiting a long time for the food to arrive (considering that the restaurant was not very full), we finally got our meals. Unfortunately, the first few mussels I tried all had grit still in them. The last straw was a large chunk of grit in one, and I was done. It took over five minutes for our server to finally come by to see what the problem was, even though he’d walked by our table twice without us being able to get his attention. He did apologize briefly for the problem, offered no explanation, and took the dish away. No further comment was made, and that item was removed from the bill without us having to ask. I’m not sure why they aren’t prepping the mussels correctly to remove the grit before cooking. Naturally, you can come across a few particles in a batch of mussels, but a diner can expect not to get grit and chunks in every mussel on the plate!

    • May 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm Carlisle Restaurants WebAdmin

      [[ Via an email ]]

      Unfortunately there is no guarantee against grit. Sometimes at bruges the mussels are nice and plump other times they are not and should not be served. I always look at other people’s to see whether to order.

  • April 28, 2013 at 9:24 pm Samiam

    I had a very good meal at Cafe Bruges last week. The mussels were plump and served very hot. The frites were excellent a lot better than when they first opened. The thai sauce was OK but nothing great. The bread was dry and not very fresh. Nothing has been done about sound proofing. Service was just OK a little slow , but we were a large table of 8. They do not take reservations so large parties should have a back up plan if the place is busy.

  • October 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm Mary Sabatini

    This restaurant was wonderful. My granddaughter who is in college in Carlisle suggested it when I came for a visit. I had a Pork Chop that was outstanding. Can’t remember what granddaughter had but she loved it also. Oh I do remember a beautiful beet salad she had before her entree. The dessert was to die for, the Apple Dumpling! I will definitely be back there next time I’m in Carlisle.

  • February 16, 2012 at 7:49 am Pete

    Stop in for lunch, enjoy the experience, a different menu, nice feel to place. The service was prompt and fine, the food presented well. Lamb burger and the crepe of the day were ordered,both were very tasty. The burger cooked to order which is an acheivement in itself today. The prices on average are higher then most places but that is balanced by the different selection and better than average quaility. The beer was superb, but you have to be a Belgium beer lover, not a Bud Light guy. Overall a good place to have lunch, when you want a step above and interesting choices; definately would go back. Only disappointments would be not take AMEX and the Belguim Dip was unavailable.

  • August 3, 2010 at 12:54 am Lori

    Cafe Bruges is one of my favorite restaurants in town. I’ve been there nearly a dozen times and have sampled most of the menu, and every meal has been delicious. As far as non-beer drinkers, I am not one either by far, but they do have some delicious sweeter options…. I highly suggest any of the lambics (Framboise = yummy!) and the Monk’s Cafe beer on tap – so smooth and sweet, not hoppy at all like most beers. The waiters I’ve had seem to be knowledgeable on the beers, so just ask and keep trying. I believe I’ve even had a waiter bring a small sample of beer for me to try before buying, which is cool. The noise is the only downfall I see, but the food is totally worth it to me! Ross, Ryan, Garret and Omar, I hope Cafe Bruges sticks around a LONG TIME!!

  • July 20, 2010 at 5:25 pm Bruce

    Cafe Bruge in Carlisle has the potential to be a really great restaurant, particularly compared to the country cooking and gritier pubs nearby, but needs some help. It has a nice menu, great beer and a good feel. We paid about $65.00 for 2 entrees, two beers, and a diet coke. The Beer selection is impressive and fun, but that’s all they have. Not a single wine. I was there with someone who doesn’t drink beer and they had to go without a real drink. Big disappointment. We ordered full price meals for around $20 which were good, but wanted to sub fries for the boiled potatoes and we were told they don’t allow substitutions. It seemed rigid. we guessed it was because they feature their fries, which go for around $5.00 I think. Ironically, the fries were dark and overcooked. I see others had good service so maybe we just came on a bad night. Our service was hurried and impersonal and we spent a lot of time trying to get noticed. In their defense, they were understaffed but their stress was obvious and passed on to us. I hope this restaurant gets it together because it could be a really good place.

    • July 22, 2010 at 1:59 pm Carlisle Restaurants WebAdmin

      Bruce – I checked with Cafe Bruges and they do only have a PA beer license. They cannot offer wine or liquor and they are not a BYOB establishment. Hopefully that answers your beer only question. The response that I got from Garrett at Cafe Bruges indicated that they have ‘champagne type’ beers available. Perhaps the server mentioned this (or maybe not on this night).

  • May 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm walt

    For my first visit, I went with my wife for lunch last week. She suggested to go early (1130ish) to beat the lunch crowd. Our waiter was attentive and prompt as well as friendly. I got the Waterzooi of fish and she got the lunch salad/quiche combination. She suggested we get the dessert waffle, so we did. Based on the previous reviews, I agree that the small portions continue, particularly when compared with the prices charged. We left just before 1pm and the lunch crowd never materialized. Even with the place never more than 1/3 full of diners, it was loud. We also had to ask to get some bread, but it came relatively quickly and was tasty.

    This places fills a niche that is certainly underserved in Carlisle, but with the smaller portions and the higher prices in a noisy atmosphere, I won’t be back unless my wife insists.

  • January 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm louise

    The previous blogger wrote, “My husband spotted the decor on the ceiling and walls and suspected that their was nothing there baffling or absorbing noise – it was just bouncing all over the place.” That isn’t correct. Sound absorbing panels have been added to the wall above the banquette and I’ve heard they plan to add additional panels. Occasionally when the room is packed, noise can be a problem, but you shouldn’t let that prevent you from going there and enjoying the wonderful food. Try an off time if you can–early evening or right after lunch–or later in the evening. It’s definitely worth it. They have two new chopped salads added to the lunch specials which my friends loved. And the carrot soup I had recently was delicious. There is also a stuffed pork loin special that my family members really enjoyed. Cafe Bruges is a definite asset to downtown Carlisle.

  • December 16, 2009 at 2:18 pm Jennifer

    This place is super loud! The food was great and so was the service – but I have to say that when I cant even talk to the people at my table without leaning over and upping the volume – it really ruins the whole experience. My husband spotted the decor on the ceiling and walls and suspected that their was nothing there baffling or absorbing noise – it was just bouncing all over the place. Even though the food was really good – we wont be back. It was that loud!

  • November 13, 2009 at 11:58 am Mark Simpson

    Every meal eaten there has been great- No complaints
    We have been back about 5-6 times and get something different each time. Service has always been outstanding.

  • October 5, 2009 at 9:10 am Nathan

    BRUNCH! It’s wonderful to have another brunch destination in Carlisle, with some fine offerings that are a cut above. Café Bruges offers a country scramble and a New York scramble, the latter being made with caramelized onions and smoked salmon. Both are served with parisienne potatoes (small, round fried potatoes—very good) and are nicely garnished with an orange slice and endive spear. The scramble was tasty, but would have been over the top with a tiny amount of goat cheese folded in (I “borrowed” some hollandaise sauce from a dining companion, and it really made the dish!). The various styles of eggs Benedict, including a Florentine version with a spinach sauce, looked delicious, and were happily devoured. One of our diners ordered the Bloody Mary mussels, a unique and interesting preparation, and loved them. Brunch may be the best reason to go to Café Bruges. Now, if they can just find a way to make a Mimosa with Belgian beer ….

  • September 21, 2009 at 9:55 am Nathan

    By way of update, we have eaten at Café Bruges several times since my last review, and things have pretty much remained constant. The moules frites and steak frites are definitely the dishes to order, and the restaurant has now added a small portion of vegetables to the steak plate (green beans on this visit), which rounds it out nicely. I was able to taste the Thai curry mussels this time, and they were flavorful, spicy, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. They have really gotten down the frites as well—this time they were excellent. Regrettably, the friendly but forgetful service has also been repeated on most visits. This time, no bread was ever brought to the table, and the salads ordered as first courses were entirely forgotten. If you go — and by all means go — order beer and the mussels or the steak frites! These are what they do right and what they do best.

  • August 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm David E. Kern Sr

    Having eaten around the world from Seoul, Korea to Central Europe and having lived in Brussels, Belgium for a time I find that Cafe Bruges is a wonderful addition to the Carlisle and Central PA cusine. Cafe Bruges has managed to bring Brussels to Pennsylvania, my wife, son and I thouroughly enjoyed the great aviance, and wonderful dishes prepared for us. The portions are generous and the service was great, you could not ask for more, I can say that we will be back and can only suggest others to join us at the Cafe Bruges!!

  • July 20, 2009 at 9:30 am Nathan

    Our second visit to Café Bruges was definitely better than the first, and we hope that they will continue to improve. The steak and mussels were as good as before, and the frites were markedly improved. But they need to be brought out fresh and hot, and not sit waiting while the food is being plated to bring to the table. Waitstaff are friendly, but the noise level continues to be a problem. It was difficult to hear our server and talk with table companions. Something needs to be added to the decor to help absorb sound. The bread is another area for improvement—it’s just not fresh or properly baked. Lastly, although the salads look to be a nice value on the menu, not enough care is being taken with them. The frisee salad with warm bacon vinaigrette should be tossed with the dressing. Perhaps the salads are served with the dressings on the side to cater to the typical American, but this is not how it’s done in Belgium (or France). Maybe if we asked next time, the kitchen would toss the salad with the dressing and plate it, and that might improve it (but the dressings need more flavor in general). We’ll keep coming back as long as things keep improving! It’s nice to have another dining option in Carlisle, particularly with an excellent beer selection like theirs.

  • July 17, 2009 at 9:40 pm eric

    For weeks I have been looking forward to eating at Cafe Bruges. Ross Morris does and excellent job at Piattos and for many years has been ably assisted by Ryan Twigg and Omar Taghi ( now at Sahara a place I like ). This is a joint venture, with a lot of experience and talent. However my first encounter at Cafe Bruges was a major disappointment. The setting is simple and pleasant. There was a lot of friendly staff, casual yet smart in their dress. For me I thought there was a lot of noise and I had difficulty hearing my waiter even when the place was half empty. The menu is simple, and with out specials. I chose the classic steak frites, my companion went with a burger. I don’t like to rush food but I was surprised how long it took to bring out two simple dishes. It would have been nice to have had something to nibble on, bread, or cheese straws, something. Our water glass was promptly refilled several times. I asked for my steak medium rare. I am not sure what cut of beef the steak was. At $19 I was expecting porterhouse, sirloin, rib eye, shell or filet mignon. I suspect it was flat iron steak, a cheaper cut from the shoulder. I like my steaks seared or charred on the outside trapping the juices inside a crispy shell. I am not sure how this steak was cooked but it was not on a very hot grill. Perhaps some people like they way they are cooking their steaks. A dab of parsley butter is put on top of the steak, I liked this. My friends burger was served with potato chips, store bought not even home made. I though this most odd. She had no complaints, or raves. There was a choice of home made mayonnaise for the fries. By home made I suspect they mean Kraft mayo with things added to it to make a little different, I don’t think they made their own mayo. The frites were not frites. In Belgium and France they are blanch fried and then fried a second time in hotter oil so they can be served hot and crispy. I could see trays of fries. I suspect they were fried once, or perhaps it was the potatoes, or perhaps the oil. I don’t know but they were not frites I had in Europe or in Philadelphia Belgium pubs. I would have thought Yukon Gold or Kennebec potatoes fried in peanut oil would have justified the $5 price and portion. I could not tell a big difference from a fast food fries, are they really using fresh raw potatoes? This is a cafe at restaurant prices. I will probably go back and try the mussels, the sausage and the carbonade, but I sincerly hope for some improvements. I suspect this will be a one time curiosity visit for many with out repeat business, which would mean Cafe Bruges will not make it.

  • July 14, 2009 at 11:38 am Sam

    I have not been yet but hope to ge there very soon. I have had feedback from about twenty friends and neighbors who have been once. General consensus was food good, price high, portions small.
    Specific comments I have heard:
    needs a family size frites for friends to share
    more visits from waiter for water
    wonderful dessert
    bread not home made
    small portions
    croquettes delicious but expensive at $8 for 2

    It is hard to open a cafe in this economy. Of course you have to make money on your investment, but you only get one time to make a good first impression. I think price and portion control are the two big issues that need to be addressed. Hope this helps.

  • July 12, 2009 at 12:24 pm David MacDougall

    I met a friend at the cafe for lunch and a flight of belgian beers. We were very happy with the service and selection. The food quality is excellent and the atmosphere is good. The Belgian beer and ale selection is the best outside of Washington, D.C. or Philadelphia.

  • July 10, 2009 at 11:54 am ross

    Ross from Cafe Bruges here. My partners (Ryan, Garret & Omar) & I want to thank everyone for the constructive comments concerning Cafe Bruges. Having just turned 3 weeks old, we are trying to listen to all feedback and make corrections as fast as we can to make this a great place for all to enjoy. We attempted to open quietly to ease much of this madness, but were bombarded from day one – thank you!

    A few clarifications: Our draft beer prices begin at $4 and range to $9. These beers are all Belgian (size is usually 33cl) and are considered by many to be some of the best in the world. Pricing is comparable to what you would pay in Belgium (minus the air fare). Bottles start at $4. Our menu pricing has all appetizers under $10 and all entrees under $20 which seems to fit well in this economy.

    Thanks again & we hope that you notice the many improvements on future visits. Please feel free to speak with any of us when you are there.

    Ross, Omar, Ryan & Garret

  • July 6, 2009 at 1:00 pm Bill

    Service at this new restaurant was friendly, but slow, on a busy Saturday night. Ceiling fans kept the air circulating and comfortable. The beer selection is great, with six Belgian beers on tap plus many more bottles. The $10 sampler flight, with four 5-oz. glasses, is a much better value than the smallish $10 individual drafts. $10 seems like an unusually high price for a beer in Carlisle…. The bartender & waitress were mixed up on which beers were which (there were two beer experts in our party that knew Hoegaarden is not a dark beer….) The food needs to be improved. The ingredients were top-notch, but the recipes fell short. For example, the Thai curry mussels had absolutely no flavor, other than seawater. I’ve never eaten unseasoned mussels before – kind of like eating unbuttered corn. The small salad (or very big garnish) served with the leek tart had no dressing. The dessert waffles were served plain, with a side of cut-up cantalope, grapes & strawberries. The waffle recipe was American, and didn’t taste anything like the big, crispy, sugary waffles I experienced years ago in Brussels. Some sort of fruit sauce, or powdered sugar, or even whipped cream would have been welcomed on this tasteless breakfast waffle. The sirloin steak and the frites were great. The mayonnaise portion for the frites was about a teaspoon, with additional “teaspoonfulls” costing $1 each. I would describe all of the portions as being small. Our bill, for the four of us, was $180 before tip. That probably explains why the majority of people were eating burgers. I will likely return for the pricey beer, but will give the kitchen some time to get better with the food.

  • June 26, 2009 at 7:33 am John

    Cafe Bruges certainly is a welcome addition to Carlisle and I wish the restaurant well. My wife and I ate lunch there on Wednesday. I ordered shrimp salad stuffed in a “ripe tomato” for $10. While the salad was fine, the tomato was hard and quite unripe. I mentioned this to the waitress, and she replied that because of the cool, rainy weather it is difficult to find good tomatoes. Perhaps Bruges should use another purveyor? Beautiful, ripe tomatoes are for sale at just about every roadside stand; they are readily available. Buy them there or admit frankly that you are not serving the shrimp salad until you find ripe tomatoes, worthy of selling in your restaurant.

  • June 26, 2009 at 6:40 am Nathan

    Cafe Bruges has a lot of potential. They were very busy, and the noise level made it difficult to talk or hear. The kitchen seemed overwhelmed with a full house. Ventilation is not as good as it should be: we were warm, and found we had the smell of fried food on our clothes after leaving. The beer selection is outstanding, and the mussels were good, but not quite as flavorful as those I’ve had in Bruges, Belgium. The frites need some tweaking–they were not crisp, and the mayonnaise was heavy, rather than creamy and at a sauce consistency. Bread did not seem fresh. Some diners may be put out at small portion sizes of some items, for the money, but the ingredients seem to be top-notch. A cocktail fork to get started with the mussels and pepper grinders on the tables would be nice additions. In a few weeks, when some of the kinks have been worked out, we’re looking forward to trying the restaurant again.

  • June 22, 2009 at 5:15 am louise

    The leek tart is wonderful! My husband also loved the sausage platter with mashed vegetables. The frites are terrific too, especially with curry ketchup. And the dark Belgian chocolate sauce over vanilla ice cream is incredible. Cafe Bruges is a very welcome addition to downtown Carlisle.

  • June 20, 2009 at 11:39 am Virginia Wessels

    Went for the first time today for lunch. It was wonderful. The only thing missing is they do not serve anything but beer. Food makes up for it. Staff is great.