Thursday, January 12, 2006

Brugge Brasserie: Restaurant Review

I’ll eat just about anywhere once, but there aren’t many eateries I’ll put into my “can’t wait to go there” category. Currently there are only three restaurants that enjoy that distinction. To get there a place must have fresh food that I find myself thinking good things about a few days later, a welcoming atmosphere (I don’t need fancy, but clean is a must), and consistency (I don’t like to take chances with my stomach, my time or my money.) I adore good service, but if a place is really good it is usually really busy so I understand if that part is soft. Most of the time I’ll settle for friendly and accurate.

In the seven months since it opened, Brugge Brasserie (in Broad Ripple behind and just west of the McDonalds) has popped right into a top spot as far as Indianapolis restaurants go. There aren’t too many places in any city where one can order Belgian beer, much less the food to go with it. What is Belgian food? Well, Belgium is sort of French and coastal. A brasserie is typically informal, so the food is as well. Put all those together and you get wonderful things. Frittes (pronounced “freet”) are a staple and the higher born cousin of what we would call a French fry. They come with great sauces, two with each order—I like the roasted garlic aioli and the vinegar mixed with sea salt. Other dishes have ingredients one doesn’t get to taste that often in places that aren’t fancy—shallots, endive, saffron, curry, butter with wine (always a favorite).

I typically order a pot full of mussels steamed in a dry Riesling and some herbs, the red curry ones are great, too. Simple and fragrant; healthy and fun to eat. An order of mussels (2 lbs) comes with frittes, two sauces, and French bread. All for 15.95! I can’t finish a pot of mussels by myself. Actually, one order makes a good lunch for two people. Belgium also is known for its soups and stews.

Brugge’s owner, Ted is a friendly and enthusiastic brew master from Indianapolis who spent the last several years in China brewing beer, selling lots of it, and I suspect raking in a lot of dough. I asked him how he chose to open a Belgian restaurant in Indianapolis. He said that Belgium has a very artistic and under-appreciated approach to beer. His beers are worthy of their own blog entry. Ted said the kind of bar food that went with Belgian beer also offered people a wide range of choices—depending on what you order, Belgian food can be healthy or decadent, heavy or light. All of those options are on the menu, and everything I’ve ordered has arrived fresh and hot.

Ted finally talked me into trying to the crepes they serve (another Belgian specialty). Where to put them has always been the issue. Even MY gut has its limits. I tried the chocolate hazelnut crepes, and they were wonderful—all that you want in a crepe—thin and light, but not too fragile. Like eating Nutella wrapped in edible origami. Okay, my simile skills are weak today. Anyway, they’re worth eatin’. I plan on being a regular at this spot.


Anonymous Sally said...

I have wanted to eat at Brugges since it opened. Maybe we can get together with David and go sometime.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Troy said...

Sally, Lets do! You'll have to help me get Dave to agree to go though. He's not much of an eater. Maybe we could get him to this restaurant I heard about in Berlin called Sehnsucht ("Longing" in English). It is owned by an anorexic person, and the dishes have names that don't refer to food, like "Hallo", and "Soul", and "Ravenous Hunger" (I guess that one is for when you want to splurge).

5:22 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Dearest Troy,
I would be happy to go to Brugges for a meal...I do enjoy my eating and look forward to this restaurant. As you may know, I am Belgian. My grandfather came through Ellis Island from Goslies Belgium in 1905. My grandmother is also Belgian (Mom's side). So, I feel that I should go there. Anyway, I'll run several miles so I can savor the flavor guilt free.

7:50 AM  

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