De Karmeliet

Langestraat 19, Bruges, Belgium

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De Karmeliet moved to its current premises in 1992, with the owner and head chef Geert van Hecke having previous worked under legendary chef Alain Chapel before he opened his first restaurant in Belgium in 1983. He won a Michelin star in 1985, and another in 1989, with the ultimate accolade of three Michelin stars coming in 1996, which it has retained since.

After passing through a modern entrance there is a lounge, and further back an attractive conservatory looking onto a garden. Here you can browse the menu and can have a drink. The dining rooms are upstairs, three rooms in a classical town-house style, with high ceilings and traditional Victorian-style décor. Amuse-bouche included a pea gelee, some red mullet and a little marinated salmon on some excellent cucumber (the nibbles were 18/20). Bread was rather ordinary (15/20), a choice of brown, white and seed rolls. However a starter of risotto with morels was perfect, the morels of the highest quality, the chicken stock superb (20/20). For the main course we shared white asparagus with fresh morels, arranged with a smooth creamy sabayon of potato inside a “fence” of asparagus with a few perfect shrimps, all in a chicken juice perfumed with nutmeg, with some basil oil and squid ink juices for decoration (19/20). 

For dessert a chocolate soufflé was as perfect as it could be (20/20). Petit fours were stunning: rum baba topped with a single pistachio, a mini apple tart, truffles, a strawberry tart, all truly out of the top drawer. The cheese was superb, all in perfect condition e.g. a Munster, an aged Comte, some delightful goats cheeses and a soft blue – a rare treat - a 20/20 cheese board. 

For lunch the following day a risotto of asparagus was also excellent. For my main course I had chicken with morels, six slices of chicken stuffed with truffle on a bed of peas and broad beans, with a single piece of asparagus. Again the cheese was stunning but the desserts and petit fours (same as last night) were again the best feature here. The coffee was also excellent. Service on both days was very good, but not faultless. The wine list was good, with Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon being a bargain. Generally the wine prices were less steep than London. 

Further reviews: 21st Aug 2014

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User comments

  • Dilip Van Waetermeulen

    Dined there this week. Surprisingly quiet night at the restaurant, but very warm welcome by the staff....I do agree with most of the other reviewers that the area to improve the most is service, but to be honest, it was one server in particular that seemed very much out of place. The whole evening, he simply refused to take into consideration the fact that my dad is left handed and he continued to place knife and fork in the wrong way....a very strange man! This being said, I think their sommelier is one of their best assets....young, dynamic but very skilled and with a great knowledge...Their pastry chef also deserves a particular mention as the desserts were very very good...Starters and mains were good to very good but not flawless...slightly too salty halibut in the first starter, exceptional scallops in the second starter were dominated by a cheese and truffle risotto and the main of pheasant, cooked to perfection, could also have done with less salt....All in all a good experience but I also have to conclude the same way as some of my fellow reviewers: a bit too expensive and maybe two * would be a more appropriate rating?

  • Name unavailable

    One of the most enjoyable all round dining experiences I have ever had (if not the most), and at £190 for two(with 1/2 bottle of wine, water and service) a relative snip. Cannot praise highly enough.

  • R

    Dined at De Karmeliet in June 2011 having visited the Fat Duck and Waterside Inn on our way through Europe. We were surprised to get a reservation on the day but realised why with our visit - the service was poor to say the least, we found fish bones in not one but two dishes and the food, whilst acceptable was by no means exceptional and certainly not on the same standing of other 3 starred establishments. Our greatest disappointment was the utter unprofessionalism we encountered whist raising these concerns with the floor manager. Certainly has shaken my confidence in using a 3 star rating to provide an exceptional dining experience.

  • Drummond

    Dined at De Karmeliet this evening and have returned to my hotel very full and content with a three course meal which almost didn't happen because of the reviews here. We found the service and food faultless and a snip at £374 for the two of us including a superb wine recommendation. I would advise you to try this restaurant for yourself and not be put off by the negative reviews below. Should I be back in Brugge i'll be back at De Karmellet. 3* in my book (and Michelin's too)

  • jhminer

    my experience was similar to that mentioned in the other reviews. i wish i had read them first and could have saved myself 250 euros for lunch. the combination of flavors of the amuses bouche, the entrees, and the plats was so unimpressive that i can't remember what i ate (despite being given a souvenir menu). the service was stiff and de rigueur. the only compensation was that i met some lovely people at tables next to mine. do yourself a favor and avoid making the same mistake. if you wish to have a light and flavorful lunch, go to l'hotellerie st-nicolas in elverdinge (outside ypres). much friendlier staff, too.

  • Louise

    My partner and I have eaten in many 1,2 and 3 star restaurants all over the world and our experience at De Karmaliet was beyond disappointing to say the least. The service was truly abysmal and the food would have been mediocre for a 1 star, let alone a 3 star. Complaints to both Michelin and the restaurant fell on deaf ears. I would advise anyone looking to dine out in Bruges to save £500 (the cost of our meal for two) and have moules and frites at a local eatery instead. On a more positive note, I am really pleased to see that Auberge du vieux Puits - 11360 FONTJONCOUSE, France has finally been awarded 3 stars. Fantastic restaurant, we go every year, the food and service is exceptionally good.

  • Leigh

    Dined here on 5 September for lunch with my wife. We both had the veal cutlets which we were both underwhelmed by, to be honest. However, the desserts more than compensated - I had (as I recall) a poached pear with gold foil, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but the millefeulle my wife had (and I tasted) was indescribably good. As if this wasn't enough, we also received an assortment of petit fours which we barely had room for - we took the option of moving to the lounge area outside the dining room, with a view of the garden, to enjoy with our coffees. Highly recommended.

  • Dolores

    My husband and I dined here the evening of 7 May 2008 and were not impressed with the experience. The food was good, but not worth the 526 Euros that we paid, and that was for a very light meal. The meals we enjoyed at Chateau des Monthairons near Verdun far exceeded our meal at De Karmeliet, at a fraction of the cost.

  • sinbarambam

    We had lunch here in May 2008 and were disappointed. This was (by a very large margin) the least enjoyable 3* meal we had. I posted a full review on tripadvisor. We were glad we had opted for the cheaper lunch menu (due to the mixed reports we'd read) but still found it overpriced.

  • Mark Thompson

    We dined at De Karmeliet in December 2007. Our table ordered the seven course 'Brugge Die Scone' menu. Our group really enjoyed the food at De Karmeliet, in fact it was preferred to Hof van Cleve the previous night, which will surprise many people. My two favorite dishes were: 1)roasted prawns with ravioli of glazed pig's head and 2) venison in a crust of wild mushrooms. Some of the service was very good, but half the time it was bad. Not at all representitive of any high end restaurant (any star, not just 3). The pacing in between courses was erratic, the main server rarely made eye contact, .. I believe the service is the most controllable part of the dining experience, so it is disappointing when it is so far from perfect.

  • Claire & John Boggis

    having planned our visit here for Christmas day, it was due to be the highlight of our trip and so the mediocrity of the restaurant was all the more disappointing. there was no atmosphere, despite being full and we could only conclude this was because other diners were speechless as we were after a tray of cold "appetisers" followed by four seafood starters, 3 of which were also chilled (clearly prepared ahead for Christmas Day but distinctly lacking in cheer). the first of the starters featured a sea urchin which I passed over but my partner who loves seafood actually retched when tasting it. the faces of other diners and unfinished plates meant we were clearly not the only ones who felt this way. the main course was as small as it was uninteresting and we were left wondering how on earth it achieved any Michelin stars, let alone 3! the 529 euro bill for a set meal with wine was redeemed only by the dainty and delicious desserts and excellent wine recommendations. we would not eat here again, having found a very unpretentious and classy meal at the Duc de Bourgogne around the corner, which with tasteful Christmas decorations and old fashioned top class service was a far cry from De Karmeliet and not far off half the price!

  • Cameron Clark

    Having eaten here twice this year its clear that the best thing about this place is its size. 80 covers means that there is a much greater chance of getting in here than any of the other top places in the Benelux. That's good to know, but also comes with a price. The very best food, like wine, is served in small amounts and although this is a great place to come, its not up to the standard of Oude Sluis or Librije and a 2* rating would seem to be more appropriate. The standard of the 2 visits also indicates that consistency is a bit of a problem. At a 7 course lunch in June, with only 12 or so other guests, the plates flew at us from the kitchen and we had to pretend to still be eating in order to stop the next from coming. It definitely felt like the boys in the kitchen wanted an afternoon off. A dinner on a Sat in Nov was completely different: 5 and a half hours to enjoy a very good 8 course meal surrounded by the buzz a full restaurant can bring. Food wise its very classical and the modern cooking techniques are left well and truly in the cookbooks - only 1 piece of foam over 8 dishes. The wine list is more modern though and although there are some terrible mark-ups on Bordeaux and the big names, if you search you can drink well for a fair price - 60 Euros for 06 Polish Hill Riesling from Grosset for example. Good, but its going to have to improve if it is to keep up with the competition.