MEANDER THROUGH FLANDERS - DAY FOUR
By now Brugge was getting pretty seriously freezing, and the canals were slowly but surely freezing over. Daytime temperatures in the middle of the week were refusing to rise much above minus 10 Celsius, which the locals were saying was as cold as it had been for five or six years. To warm up, we just had to keep calling into cafes and pubs as we went around - what a hardship! We did some great walks during the week, and today we had a long walk out to the windmill near the end of Langestraat, then round the outer canal on what was an ice rink of a path, before coming back into town via the Koning Astrid park and the Vismarkt.
Conveniently, Erasmus was open for lunch, and so in we went for tasty beef & pork stew and delicious home made soup. Girardin Black label Gueuze and Boeken from Proefbrouwerij helped it all go down very nicely. This was the first time we had eaten at Erasmus, and it was very impressive. We will definitely eat here again.
Erasmus is a very good place to have a drink. However, it is also one of the more peculiar speciality beer cafes in Belgium, as it is really a bar and restaurant situated in a hotel foyer, and I don't often go drinking great beers in a hotel foyer. Having said that, it is a very comfortable hotel foyer, and the layout does work quite well, so that you nearly forget where you are, but it does feel slightly incongruous. Another thing that is slightly odd is that if you chat to Tom he will tell you about all the other beers that he has, most of which he is very happy to sell to you, but the list is just over 80. I just wonder why he doesn't put all his available beers on the list? This does make finding out what he has quite a challenge. - perhaps he likes holding onto the others a bit too much! Anyway, a very enjoyable place to spend some time.
Later we called into Kuppe, which is a new entry in Tim Webb but which has been around for a couple of years, advertising '100 beers' on its window. Last, and only, previous time we were in, we didn't see how they had 100 beers, but the list now does indeed go to 100. However, I was not impressed by Kuppe. I just feel that they need to make more effort. This is a bar that proves that having 100 beers isn't everything. The best feature is a huge stove fire thing, but the rest of the place needs a lot of work. Its not particularly comfortable and could do with some serious money being spent on it. For example, why not make that huge stove the centrepiece and do it up in a classic style? Mind you, with the clientele that they are aiming at I doubt whether that would really be in their thinking. One quick coffee and that was enough for us. And the coffee was nothing to write home about either.
Before dinner we visited Dickies again - Ter Doolen Blonde and Stille Nacht this time for me - before going for dinner at a new restaurant, De Vlaamsche Pot, Helmstraat 3 - 5 (just off Nordzandstraat, one of the main shopping streets).
It's a restaurant which used to be the Pannekoekenhuis (no prizes for guessing what they majored in at that stage). It has the same owners now but it has been rethought and expanded by knocking into next door. The owners come from a brewing family, apparently, so have some beery interest. While it is definitely a restaurant and not a beer café, they actually have a beer list of 35 beers, and pretty good it is too. And the food was the best of our whole trip - they serve freshly cooked Flemish classics with lots of beer in. The whole place is wonderfully atmospheric, with lots of candle light, exposed brickwork and friendly staff. Anyway, a good find and one that I would recommend. I had a superb chicken waterzooi and a lovely mushroom soup.
Another visit to De Garre rounded off another busy day of beer, coffee, beer, more coffee, food and wandering round - what more could anyone wish for on a cold, wintery day in Brugge?
Photos: Brugge, Gent, Aalst and De Haan
Photos: De Gans, 't Kroegske and Heeren van Liedekercke
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