Lunchbox : Cafe Bruges
Walk into Café Bruges in Carlisle and it’s easy to think you’re in Brussels. The food menu is small; the beer menu extensive. Don’t let the simplicity of the menu fool you into thinking the food might be bland. It isn’t. Traditionally, Belgium food is a combination of French and German cuisine. Café Bruges, with its moules frites (mussels and fries), steak frites, Flemish stews, sandwiches, and American burgers, offers a variety of flavors.
The tomato soup ($5) had a light tomato base flavored with a touch of herbs and leeks. The addition of the Scaldis, a spicy hoppy ale served at the restaurant, gave the soup a malty taste, which took this lunchtime staple beyond the ordinary.Our waiter, who was well versed on all things Belgian, explained the day’s specials which included two soups, a tomato soup made with Scaldis, and a cream soup made with brie purported to be as rich as ice cream; a ham, asparagus and white cheddar cheese quiche; and a croque monsieur sandwich. There were no crepes available that day, at least not until their mushroom shipment arrived.
The ham, asparagus and white cheddar quiche ($9) [shown above] had a thin flaky crust with a fresh, not too custardy filling that was crisp on top. It was served with a hefty side salad comprised of lettuce and grape tomatoes. The hot bacon dressing (there’s a selection of three dressings) was indeed warm enough that our waiter cautioned me to let it cool before
adding to the salad. The dressing’s subtle flavor didn’t take away from the rest of the food.
The croque monsieur ($8), the iconic French ham and cheese sandwich, was accompanied by lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and potato chips. The combination of nutty gruyere, piquant provolone, lean ham, and grainy country mustard on grilled white bread was delicious. Let’s be frank. Neither the quiche nor the sandwich is as tricky to make as
a rabbit fricassee. But at Café Bruges, both of these were very good quality and perfectly prepared.
For drinks I had the lemonade (heresy, I know, in a place that offers over 100 Belgian beers) ($2), and my partner splurged on a bottle of Lindeman’s Lambic framboise ($11). Lambic is a Belgian beer that is spontaneously fermented; i.e., fermentation accomplished by exposure to wild yeasts and bacteria. The addition of fruit, usually cherries (kriek) or raspberries (framboise) counters the sour aftertaste produced by this type of fermentation. To modulate the aroma and flavor, Lambic should be served in flute glasses, and this is how it’s done here. You either like Lambic or you don’t (we did).
Dessert landed on our table accompanied by the decadent aroma of caramel and cinnamon. The Banana Lambic Crème Brulee ($8) had a thin caramelized crust atop a delicate custard. The Apple Dumpling ($7) was served in a warm puffed pastry shell, drizzled with caramel, and accompanied by a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream. They were a delicious and filling complement to lunch.
The price of this lunch, before tip, was $52.34. Café Bruges is open daily for lunch and dinner and Sundays for brunch. They do not take reservations.
Reviewer RD | August 2012