Restaurant Review – Den Dijver, Bruges

Hello hello.  Long time no post.  You know how it is: work, sleep, wedding plan…

Except that the wedding has now happened!  Yes, A Man and I got married on 20 July 2013 and I am therefore now A Wife!  The day was fabulous, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

We went on honeymoon for 3 nights to Bruges, in Belgium.  We openly confess that the idea to go to Bruges essentially stemmed from this film.

Usually, when A Man and I go on holiday, it’s very much a budget affair.  We go camping, we cook for ourselves, we take advantage of free entertainment etc etc.  The plan for the honeymoon was simple: go for a short time, so that we could really have a blow out and spend a ridiculous amount of money in a couple of days.  Drink beer, eat chocolate, go out for meals.

The parents of Best Man P gave us a Lonely Planet guide to Bruges as a wedding present, which was absolutely brilliant.  One of the restaurants it recommended was Den Dijver, where they pair each course with a complementary beer.  The menu is more expensive than we’d ever normally spend on a meal out but that didn’t matter.  We decided that it sounded like a great experience, so we got all dressed up and went over on Wednesday night.

It was closed.  We were grumpy.  We went to a different restaurant.

We tried again on Thursday night.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have our posh clothes to wear but never mind.  We went along to the restaurant and were shown through to the garden.  We were offered an aperitif of either a 7% local beer, or the house special of cherry beer with cava, similar to kir royale, which we both chose and which was really delicious.

Tables under the wines, and A Man with our aperitifs.

Tables under the vines, and A Man with our aperitifs.

A little while later we were surprised with an amuse bouche of marinated salmon with soft goat’s cheese, which was really yummy.

A salmon amuse bouche in a little globe.

A salmon amuse bouche in a little globe.

We chose to have the three course meal, with the accompanying beer suggestions.  As the guide book says, you can instead choose to have wines but that would rather be missing the point.  My first course was Carpaccio “Rossini” with goose liver.  It was perfectly seasoned, and the liver was amazingly buttery.  A Man had Artichoke with a mustard dressing which he thoroughly enjoyed.  There was also some amazing bread which was still hot when it arrived at the table, and which had an incredible crunchy crust.  The bread was dark with a really deep flavour.  My beer was a delicious Grimbergen Blonde, whilst A Man had Paljas Blond.

A Man and I couldn't quite remember how much of the artichoke you're meant to eat, but it was delicious (and he made sure he mopped up every last drop of the sauce with some bread!).  The carpaccio came with a lovely salad, which included flowers.  You can see the bread behind the beers, and there's also a photo of the condiments - the butter sits in a hollowed out piece of slate.

A Man and I couldn’t quite remember how much of the artichoke you’re meant to eat, but it was delicious (and he made sure he mopped up every last drop of the sauce with some bread!). The carpaccio came with a lovely salad, which included flowers. You can see the bread behind the beers, and there’s also a photo of the condiments – the butter sits in a hollowed out piece of slate.

After our starters came the main courses.  A Man had chosen Duck Breast with Peaches, Almonds and Belgian Chicory.  The duck was delicious and the accompaniments worked beautifully with it.  It was paired with Trappist Achel.  I chose Dory in Salt Crust with Southern Vegetables, Pesto and Tapenade.  The fish flaked gorgeously, and the pesto was perfect with it.  My main course was paired with Tripel Karmeliat.  A Man had in fact tried both beers the previous day and both were declared to be excellent, so we were really pleased to know that we would enjoy them.

A Man indicates how manically excited he is about his duck.

A Man indicates how manically excited he is about his duck.

Unfortunately, at this point the camera died😦  Stupidly we hadn’t considered the fact that we had been taking pictures and videos for 3 days, and that sometimes batteries need to be recharged, so we only managed to get one more poor quality photograph of our meal before it gave up the ghost.

For dessert, A Man had originally chosen strawberries with mascarpone, mint and pistachio but they had run out of strawberries, so he changed his order to Cherries with Cherry Beer Sorbet.  I opted for Sabayon with Geuze.  A Man’s cherries arrived with a bottle of Lindeman’s Kriek, the cherry beer with which the sorbet was made.  The cherry beer is sweet and not something you would want to drink regularly, but perfect to round off the meal.  Mine came with a bottle of Oude Gueuze Tilquin.  The waitress explained to me that no sugar is added to the beer, which makes it very sharp but refreshing.  She was certainly right!  It reminded me of true dry scrumpy cider, and it was lovely with the sabayon.  A Man’s cherries were warm and juicy, and the melting sorbet was delicious.  The sabayon was light, and perfectly balanced between the sweet foamy top and the sharp gueuze used beneath (and of course, drunk alongside!)

My sabayon and gueze before the camera died, and a couple of photos of the drinks shamelessly stolen from the internet.

My sabayon and gueuze before the camera died, and a couple of photos of the drinks shamelessly stolen from the internet.

We were then offered coffee.  A Man decided against it, but I said that I would like one.  Like the aperitif, this was accompanied by a surprise bonus second dessert!  This was a chocolate mousse with sharp raspberry coulis, together with a couple of little biscuits and was just perfect to round off the meal.  The coffee wasn’t bad either.

We would thoroughly recommend Den Dijver to anyone going to Bruges, as the service was great, the setting was beautiful and the food was incredible.  It was great to have the experience of having our beers matched to our courses, and whilst it was more expensive than we would normally pay for a meal out, at €140 for both of our meals and drinks, it wasn’t extortionate and we definitely plan to go back next time we’re in Bruges (oh yes, there will be a next time!).  Only next time we’ll make sure we check when the place is open, and ensure that we save our posh clothes for then.

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