I have a confession to make about this place… I have eaten here before. It is rare that on going back to a location for only 2/3 days, that I would go back to a restaurant, unless there was good reason. Enter Park.
I have been to Bruges in early Dec every for the weekend 3 times now. Why? Because it looks like Christmas has exploded in the best way.
The streets are filled with Christmas Carols, the Christmas markets are open and it is cold enough to snow, if it is not snowing. “Can’t you get that in a lot of places?” I hear you ask… and the answer is yes. What you can’t get is that gothic, and theatrical take on Christmas that makes you feel like you’ve fallen into a Charles Dickens Novel.
So, why Park? I have been to quite a few of Bruges “famous” restaurants and while most of them serve great food and have modern and sleek interiors, what I want is dark lighting, red velvet entrance curtains, immersive theatre, a decor that is all about mood. Its cosy, with only a few tables and you feel like you’ve been let into a secret.
They would say, “This is not a gastronomic restaurant but a restaurant true to the basics of cooking.” I say that while that may be the intention, do not underestimate the food.
You can go for a choice of 2 set menus, or go a la carte. Either way there are a few crowd pleasers in their lists. To start, the Crispy Mushroom and Spinach Pie in a garlic Cream sauce is just as rich and morish as it sounds as was the Old fashioned Cheese Gratin filled with 2 Brittany Scallops. This is exactly what I crave pre Christmas and though its pretty punchy on the Calories front… Its Christmas! You’re in a city where 17 layers is acceptable… Make the most of it!
For the mains, the Baby Dover Sole in Buttersauce (with Tomatoes, Potato Soufflé, Lemon, Shrimps) is delicious and has so much buttery rich flavour for a fish dish. If you like fish, but Dover sole isn’t your bag (Whats wrong with you) you can go for the Cod filet with Samphire, (with White wine Sauce, Potatoes Soufflé, Shrimps). This is Winter fish done to perfection. Both of these dishes are rich and comforting enough to help you through the blizzard that is outside the doors on exit. If you are more Carnivorous, then the Beeffilet in Red wine Sauce with Vegetables and Gratin Dauphinois is perfect. The red wine sauce gives it a real heady depth of flavour and for a city that is not known for its beef, this is prepared and executed really well.
For dessert, there are several options including Créme Brûlée and Chilled Nougat Ice cream with Raspberry coulis and marinated Strawberries… But who are we kidding… when you see the words “Tarte Tatin with Vanilla Ice cream flamed with Calvados” on the menu, if you dont order it without hesitation then you are clearly not well. They have perfected this dish and even if you dont like booze with your sweet (I tend to prefer it in a glass than in a dessert dish) it compliments the plate perfectly and cuts into the apples really well. As an added bonus, there is less chance that you’ll notice the minus degree weather after this dish.
Like I said, this place is all about dark lighting, warm coloured walls, immersive theatre and something that you would expect to see in a very grand adaptation of gothic aristocracy.