Short Trip to Brussels, Bruges, and Amsterdam
This is my first post on CH after months of benefiting from the phenomenal insight that many of the hounders share. I'm going to Europe a month from now and will be making a short three-day trip to Belgium and the Netherlands. Specifically, I'll be spending half a day in Brussels (lunch), one day in Bruges (dinner, lunch), and one day in Amsterdam (dinner, lunch, and maybe early dinner). I realize that a short trip like this might not do the respective cities justice, but it doesn't mean we can't take the opportunity to sample at least some of what this part of Europe has to offer!
After some research, which included scouring this board, I've made some reservations and come up with a tentative itinerary. What I need are some off-beat suggestions to fill the remaining gaps: local fare, food stands, back-alley vendors (okay maybe not those), and the like. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Breakfast/brunch/lunch in Brussels: I don't know if I'm even looking for a real meal here. I'd be content with some fries, waffles, and chocolate. My SO and I will be arriving from London and will most likely not stray too far from the Midi/Zuid. We're looking to visit some of the chocolatiers (Wittamer, Neuhaus, etc.), which will take us somewhat closer to Grand Place and Manneken-Pis for some obligatory photographs. Along the way, are there any food truck equivalents that serve fries and waffles? Maybe a strip of street vendors not necessarily out to get tourists?
Dinner in Bruges: We made reservations at Bistro den Huzaar. Reviews online everywhere seem to be overwhelmingly positive, so I'm expecting a very satisfying food coma at the end of the meal.
Lunch in Bruges: I rarely drink, but I read about Den Dyver (Dijver?) on this forum and it sounds interesting enough that we made a reservation there for lunch. My girlfriend has no problem with alcohol, but I'm a bit of a lightweight, hah.
Dinner in Amsterdam: We expect to arrive late, and don't want to have anything extravagant right after we get off the train. Thinking of Burgermeester here.
Lunch in Amsterdam: Gartine is supposed to be closed for most of July but their website says they hope to re-open on 8/1 (guess which day we'll be there...). We haven't called them to make reservations yet (assuming we can), but if this falls through, what are some other comparable brunch options?
Dinner in Amsterdam (?): I think we'll be taking the SailRail option back to London in the evening, so dinner will have to happen early (5 - 5:30 probably). Again, we won't be looking for anything elaborate here - any suggestions?
Thanks for reading,
We had an excellent meal at Moeders in Amsterdam...also at De Kas. De Kas was an organic, local type of place so if you're not looking for that, forget it. Moeders did require a reservation as it was a pretty popular neighborhood place.
In Bruges...I do recommend, if you have the time, to go to De Halve Maan brewery (very old, very interesting) and to get a real Liege waffle, which you should find at a few shops scattered about. In Brussels, I mostly ate street food because I found a chicken kebap that I literally couldn't live without. Other than that, we really did the touristy mussels and fries and were totally satisfied! The best thing I took away from Belgium was the beer and the Liege waffle. The Wafels & Dinges food truck in NYC comes very close, but still not the same.
Much to our dismay, we found Noordzee closed on the Monday. It was around noon and there was no signage indicating their store hours...we left disappointed and settled for Fritland. The fries are good but nothing to write home about, imho. I think the Belgians just have more interesting sauce. Went to Dandoy's for waffles - airy and light, but for the price point I don't know if they were that outstanding. Bought some chocolates from Neuheus and Pierre Marcolini.
Dinner in Bruges at Bistro den Huzaar was quite good. I got the pork casserole (I asked the waitress for something like carbonnade flamande and that's what she suggested); my gf got some fish. The pork was way more memorable. Could've ordered dessert but was quite satisfied with the mains.
Den Dyver was an interesting experience because we went to Da Halve Maan before lunch and I had three sips of their blonde and was half knocked out (I did say I'm a bit of a lightweight). Nevertheless, the three-course set lunch was enjoyable - mussels were fresh (or fresh tasting to me at least), duck breast was cooked properly and tender, and the mango sorbet in mint soup was simple yet delightfully refreshing.
Our train to Amsterdam took a detour because of some rail issues, so we arrived pretty late. We did manage to make our way to Burgermeester for dinner. Had the Royale, the Master, the Spanish Lamb, the special (some veal thing). Gf and I agreed that the Royale with the truffled fried egg was the winner. Everything was quite good, though.
We walked past Gartine twice and missed it, mostly because of the misleading Segafreddo sign on top of the storefront. Once we settled in we were treated to some hearty food. An ox sausage, a paté, and a smoked salmon salad. The home-grown vegetables were perhaps as much of a highlight as the meats - very fresh and went very well with the dressing (did not figure out what it was). Wish they had more bread selection - I think we basically got four rolls of the same sourdough - but a minor point.
For our early "dinner" in Amsterdam we went to...wait for it...McDonald's. I got what I thought was McChicken..and turned out to be the McCroquette. In a way that's cool because from what Dutch I could read (none), it's unique to Amsterdam.
If I get another chance to go to this region I'll definitely be spending a few more days in Bruges and Amsterdam, and maybe visit Antwerp.
Sounds like a fun trip. If you want something like Burgermeester but closer to the train station, you could try Burger Bar on Kolksteeg. It's not as, gosh I don't know what the best word would be, I guess it's not as "hippie" as Burgermeester. You can get fries at Burger Bar but not at Burgermeester, and there are three types of beef to choose from at Burger Bar. Burgermeester has the more interesting and outré toppings. But I like the burgers at Burger Bar better.
If you do go to Burgermeester, and are craving fries (chips?) after, go to Vleminckx for vlaamse frites. Best in the city.
Some places might be closed for summer vacation, as you are aware. I think my favorite for dinner, Cafe Bern, will be closed, but you could call. In De Waag is excellent and in a great old building. There are a ton more recommendations on this board for more upscale places too.
Comparable brunch to Gartine can be had at Cafe Nielsen in the Negen straatjes area. Also I've heard good things about Singel 404.
Thanks for the tips charlesbois. We did manage to secure a reservation for Gartine, so that meal should be set. I'll definitely look into the dining options you suggest for our early dinner on Wednesday. I might have to try Vleminckx just to experience the queue :)
As for the lunch in Brussels, I think we're settling on Noordzee. The chaos I'm seeing in some of these pictures seems to suggest a loyal following.