Saturday, 19 April 2008
For my 26th birthday Cowie and I went to Cafedraal - one of Bruges' best known restaurants. It's a bit of an institution and rightly so. They've even had an Absolut bottle ad made just for them.
We were seated next to the entrance which was unfortunate so we asked if we could move. In the past we would both have been very embarrassed about this but these days we're much better at standing up for our restaurant rights! They repositioned us to the bar where we tucked into a couple of glasses of champagne, greatly relieved to no longer be next to the restaurant equivalent to the M1.
There really out to be a warning on the menu - portion sizes can kill - from the Surgeon General. My North Sea fish soup was gigantic, both in terms of the robust flavours and its sheer size. Deep, shellfishy savouriness and soft, tender chunks of fish. The croutons, rouille and gruyere transformed my vast bowl into something really special. But given the fact that it had a lobster and crab claw in it I didn't really need a hole lobster afterwards!
But then again, when do you ever NEED a whole lobster... not often! My lobster was a dish of two halves. I was disappointed whilst wolfing down the first half because they hadn't told me that they were keeping the other half warm in the kitchen. So when I finished the first one I felt a bit let down. But then elation took over as the second installment arrived, steaming from the kitchen. Great lobster. It's just a shame that it came from Canada! I only asked them at the end expecting to be told that he had come from Brittany or Zebrugge... but to my shock he had been flown over from the other side of the Atlantic! Again this kind of thing needs a warning sign. I felt a little bit let down by this revelation.
Cowie had a piece of halibut that arrived on a bed of rice and cauliflower. Unfortunately the base was cold so Cowie sent it back - and it came back spot on. But it was unfortunate that they had let themselves down.
The atmosphere was fantastic for people watching. The couple next to us were almost impossible to read. She was much younger than him. They switched between speaking in English and French. They seemed to work together. He made lots of sexually iinappropriate remarks. Baffling.
We left the restaurant in top spirits amazed by the atmosphere and weighed down by the food. Cafedraal is an institution.
We've just been to see "In Bruges" at the cinema and spent the whole film pointing and giggling because we've just been to the places where the film takes place. But the best bit was when Colin Farrel and his date eat at Cafedraal. They sat at the same table that we did! But our meal was less spectacular - I didn't punch a Canadian couple in the face! Go to see the film if you've been to Bruges. It's weird but you'll love it. It's set to be the next Withnail and I.