I went to one of the brasserie/cafes where they have a table service on the main square with my nearly 60 year old parents. I can't remember the name any more because we were just passing by Brugge on our way to Germany and were not there to stay. The waiter told us to sit and when came around we ordered three coffees. Little did we know that it would have been hugely sensible to look at the menu! Alas we didn't because we only wanted to drink coffee, not to eat and thought that coffee would be approximately 2,00 to 3,00 EUR most.
After waiting for a few minutes we got two containers (one 1 litre and 1 half a litre) of coffee and thought that this was odd considering there was just three of us. When we asked for the bill, they charged us €15!!! That was totally ridiculous. You could have had breakfast with hot drink and some croissant on the side for three people with the same price in the same bloody brasserie!!
Something definitely wasn't right with their attitude... It wasn't that they didn't understand us since I speak fluent Dutch which is very similar to Flemish. Not recommending these cafes to anyone.
Unique Suggestions: Ask to see the menu and check the prices of your order before hand!!!
Fun Alternatives: Venture off the main square
After reading Sarah's blog about the tourist trap that is Brugge centrum I have to agree with her that Song Hua is a gem. Although it was a Sunday evening and it was generally quiet we were treated very well by the host who in the space off half an hour we heard her speaking 4 languages , to be honest I have trouble with English. The starter off tomato soup with shredded pork was very good that was followed by a chicken curry which was very light & tasty compared to the heavy curry sauce we get back home and at 31 euros for 2 starters 2beers & 2 mains in the centre off brugge is only 4 euros more than we paid for brunch all in all it was worth taking the back streets to find a gem.
I live in Brugge and have noticed all the negative comments on restaurant prices in the market. You´re right - you pay way too much for the market view.
So here are some places that we who live here go to to eat at and still have money over for a box of chocolates (or two!) afterwards!
To those scrooges like myself I recommend having your main meal at lunch where most of the deals are to be found. But the places I have listed here also have low priced evening menus, especially when compared to those silly prices on the Grote Markt.
If you are backpacking and really don´t want to spend any money then the fast food places and the Medard are best for you. The Quick (Belgian McDonalds equivalent), Subway and chip stands on or near the market place itself are the cheapest alternative. You can eat and drink and get change out of 10€. Those staying at Charlie Rockets or the Bauhaus are on or near the Langestraat, where Het Bootje chip shop has a lot to offer, and the Smatch supermarket has a number of takeaway alternatives. Otherwise go to the supermarket in the Oude Burg (the Simon Stevinplein end) as it´s the cheapest one in the centre. The GB and Delhaize supermarkets charge way too much for their central location.
If you want 'real' food while sitting down there are a number of places to try:
The local Irish pub in the Burg (green-lit building in the corner) has a broad menu for good prices, the chinese restaurant (Song Hua) on the Philipstockstraat does a very cheap lunch buffet but evening meal prices are also great, and it´s a nice place to go to. On this same street you´ll also find Passion for Food (vegetarian) and Bao Bob (South African, but I wouldn´t consider it a cheap restaurant - but then I hate paying anything more than 20€ on a meal plus drink(s), and might stretch to 25€ if I get my money´s worth ;-)
Go to the Sint Amandsstraat (just off the main market place) for a wide variety of better priced restaurants from local fare (always slightly pricier, but as it´s just off the market a bit cheaper) to Italian (both take away and eat in, either 'Pasta Presto' or opposite this restaurant the 'Medard' that gives massive portions for ridiculous prices, but is very full very quickly and will probably need a reservation). Also check out the Druids Cellar under the Chinese Wall restaurant in the Sint Amandsstraat. More for the beer, but they also serve snacks. Just a bit of free publicity for the Newcastle native, Drew, who runs it! On the Steenstraat the Hema department store has a restaurant on the first floor which does simple meals and snacks. You can also find a number of restaurants on the Zand which are cheaper than the main market area but aren´t always noted for their 'gourmet' taste.
Behind the main market place in the Oude Burg there is a restaurant/cafe that is nothing to look at and is often overlooked. I can´t remember the name but it´s on the same side and just before the Christelijke Mutualiteit (CM) building if you are coming from the direction of the Wollestraat. It has a very cheap beer and food menu. The view might not be that wonderful, and you´ll be surrounded by locals.
In the Sint Jakobsstraat you´ll find a Portugese restaurant (Porto Romano) and de Bottelier who charge relatively highly for drinks, but the food prices are not too bad. There´s also a Greek restaurant which is the cheapest of the two in the city ). But these are definitely the highest priced restaurants in my list.
In the Eekhoutstraat you have the Eekhoetje. Tom´s Diner on the West-Gistelhof can offer a local meatloaf meal for about 14€ and has a large menu including vegetarian choices. It´s best reached by going up to the canals via the Spanjaardstraat. It´s a gorgeous walk, especially once you reach the canals.
The Langestraat is mainly ignored by the tourists, except for the backpackers. But it not only houses a number of cheap to medium priced restaurants, but also the top rated restaurant in Belgium, De Karmeliet (prices start at 80€....I´m told). On the Langestraat you´ll find a Morroccan restaurant, local ones like the Calis, cafe´s serving food, chip shops and Tapas restaurant. And all at prices that get rid of the market place reputation once and for all.
So you don´t need to starve over here!
Unique Suggestions: Avoid the market place!
Some Resturants can be expenisve. the trap is the resturant has advertised in there blackboard ie a three course meal is 22 euros please check the menu before deciding. sometimes there dont match there black boards of advertisment also what not mention in the menu mite be an extra charge
Unique Suggestions: firstly check the price and just keep to the menu set and you may ask to have a glass fof wine or something else please check he price before ordering
Fun Alternatives: is look around before you make a decison and calculated your budget
There are loads of them. A lot of restaurants (but not all) in the centre are over-priced and not fantastic. Guided tours will not give you the same feeling as looking around yourself with the guide in your hand.
Don't go eating or drinking at Grote Markt. All is expensive and we had some sandwiches that costed us 10 EURO! And they tasted bad. The bread was so hard you could easily break your teeth on it and the salmon on it seemed very old. Yuck!
Didn't enjoy the Tom Pouce restaurant in the Burg too much. The food was OK but not cheap and the service was awful. The best I can say is that it was convenient that evening but there are much better.