Pros: Great Selection of Belgian Beers, Food, Location
Cons: Only Belgian Beers, Noise, Slightly Pricy
Happened to take a day drive and ended up in Carlisle, which apparently has a decent amount of good eating establishments in the downtown area. That being the case it was a sort of flip of the coin and I ended up choosing Cafe Bruges.
Cafe Bruges, as the name would suggest, is a Belgian style restaurant. That being the case your food and drink choices are decidedly Belgian. This is especially the case with the drinks, all Belgian or Belgian style beer. If you go to Cafe Bruges looking for a Bud, a glass of wine, or a mixed drink you're going to end up being disappointed. However if you are looking for a large selection of beers from Belgium, well you've found your happy place. The selection includes about 7 taps, two of which are on daily rotation, and near 100 different bottles. They also pretty much have a glass to match every single drink. As for the food, your are looking at your typical Belgian fair. Mussels, Frites, several stews, steak, ect. Dessert menu is also decidedly Belgian, with the Waffle being the signature dish.
For my experience, I grabbed a seat at the bar. Upon my arrival the restaurant was only about half full, but this was also shortly before 5pm and changed very quickly. Was waited on quickly and decided to start off with a beer, a Bavik Pilsner. After walking around Carlisle this hit the spot (it's about as light and refreshing as Belgians get). Next i ordered dinner, decided to go with something different in the Lamb Burger (medium rare) on a toasted roll (not sure of the bread but it was good) with gruyere cheese (the cheese and the bread are not choices but are per the menu). Make sure you read the menu, as the sides vary. For this burger the sides consist of chips, a dill pickle spear, and garnish for your burger in the form of onion slices, a slice of tomato, and large leaf of lettuce. Burger was done to perfection with the right amount of seasoning to make its presence known but not so much so as to overpower the taste of the meat. I'll admit i am not much of a lamb person, but if i had a chance to order again i would. I also ordered a side of Frites which were, to my disappointment, slightly overdone. You also have a choice of sauces go with both the burger and the Frites, i went with a Horseradish sauce to with the burger (which as horseradish sauces go was extremely mild, yet paired well with the burger) and curry ketchup with the fries (which wasn't bad but it just wasn't my thing). Pared dinner with Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale. Finished up my experience with a Scotch Silly beer (first time i had one and not one of my favorites) forgoing desert for a future visit.
In all the experience was good. The staff were friendly and helpful in navigating both the beer and food menus as well as giving recommendations based on what i was looking for. The atmosphere was ok, the overwhelming amount of patrons were with groups, where i was by myself. The restaurant filled up quickly not long after i arrived, with parties waiting for tables in the front and at the bar (it also happened to be the Dickinson College alumni weekend). This impacted service at the bar some, but apologizes were quick, and the drop in service wasn't considerable enough to make any sort of major impact. Only a couple of issues, the bartop area where i sat was a bit wet in spots, i am guessing from the previous patrons. The establishment can get bit loud with it only being half full. And i was hoping for a TV so i could have watched the World Cup (in which Belgium is participating in), but that's not a big deal and something i can just overlook.
Total bill (3 beers and a meal) came to just over $40, which i would say is a tad bit pricier than what I would expect the average establishment in downtown Carlisle would run. This is mostly due to the price of the drinks which runs about $4 - $12 dollars on average depending on what one orders (several are more expensive). When i have the chance to be back in Carlisle i would definitely consider Cafe Bruges for a return visit.
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