Last night, Bob and I went on a date to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the day we moved in together. I keep a pretty sizable wish list on Urbanspoon, and after consulting it, we decided on Park Bruges. We had been to the sister restaurant, Point Brugge, in the past, and had never been disappointed, so this seemed like a safe bet.
I was kind of surprised at how much Bryant Street in Highland Park has developed. Last time I was in that neck of the woods, there was a small mini-mart that sold good hummus and tabbouli, and a coffee shop. Now there are quite a few highly regarded restaurants in a three block area, most of which are on my wish list too. I have to wonder how the people who live in the neighborhood feel about all the traffic, and how long it will be before parking becomes a major headache.
7PM on a Sunday night was not a problem for parking or seating. The restaurant itself is a tad bigger than Point Brugge and the menu is also bigger and more varied, with some of the same staples. It's cozy without being overcrowded and is not at all loud, a problem with so many newer places. The decor is simple and pleasing to the eye.
The staff is friendly and unpretentious. With so many appetizer options to choose from, we opted to get two classics, Tarte Flambe (a kind of flatbread) and Poutine (which is actually Canadian, but who is counting?).
The Poutine was amazing. The cheese curds were fresh and flavorful. The gravy was perfectly tasty without being overwhelming. The frites were some of the best I've ever had. We could have just ordered this and been happy. But there was more.
The Tarte Flambe was crispy and delicious, with sweet onions, mild cheese, and generous slices of lean ham. I look forward to trying other varieties available on our next visit.
The beer selection was excellent, as expected, but rather expensive, also expected. We only had one beer each but both were superlative.
I had a really hard time deciding on a main course. So many great choices!
We moved on to the Flemish Four Onion Soup, since onion soup is one of my Good Restaurant Indicators (along with Reuben sandwiches, cheeseburgers, and meatloaf). It was nice and cheesy, and the onions had a satisfying degree of firmness, unusual for an onion soup. The broth could have used a greater depth of flavor, but all in all it was quite delicious.
Bob ordered the Mediterranean Seafood Stew and in a real departure for me, I ordered the Moules Frites in the classic white wine/beurre blanc preparation. I have never ordered mussels or any kind of bivalve as a main entree before, and was a little worried. I needn't have, they were delicious. My only problem was how large the portion was. It was truly more than I expected and Bob ended up eating quite a bit of them.
Park Bruges was added to my list of favorites before we even paid our check for the evening. I look forward to returning again and again, and working our way through their impressive and varied menu.
After dinner, we went to a local pub to sing Karaoke (fun!) and then hit a deer on the way home. (not fun!) The deer ran off, so it was probably ok, but Bob's car now needs $2500 worth of body work. We are fortunate that it wasn't worse and that neither of us were hurt.