Brouge, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1SX - closed
PUBLISHED: 18:39 06 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:22 01 May 2014
When thinking about European cuisine, it's usually the old favourites that spring to mind: Italian, French, possibly Greek - but Belgian? JOHN HUGHES paid a visit to Brouge, er, in Richmond, to discover just what he's been missing
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2009
Restaurant review: Brouge, 5 Hill Street, Richmond Upon Thames TW9 1SX Tel: 0208 332 0055
What we ate
Brouge charcuterie £6.50
Baked Portobello mushroom £5.50
Brouge moules frites £11.95
Slow roasted confit of Aylesbury duck leg £13.95
Belgian waffle with chocolate
sauce & vanilla ice cream £4.95
Westmalle (Triple Blond Trappist) / bottle 33cl £4.85
Madfish Sauvignon Semillon 2006/07 / glass 250ml £7.50
Food and drink 7
What does 'Belgium' conjure up for you - waffles, chocolate, Tintin, Hercule Poirot? Well, now add to that list Brouge - a fun bar and bistro right in the heart of Richmond that blends traditional Belgian cuisine and beers with a commitment to using fresh local produce.
We weren't expecting a cellar and initially walked past Brouge without noticing. But once down the narrow steps, we found ourselves in an attractive, stylish eatery - more spacious than you would imagine. Even on a Tuesday night, it was busy and buzzy, and later we discovered that there's something rather special about Tuesdays here...
The menu has a bar snack rather than restaurant feel about it, not extensive but it doesn't need to be as the Belgian faves are what people come for - moules frites, stoemp saucisse (bangers and mash Belgian style - all bangers locally sourced) and house specials such as Flemish pork casserole. They also pride themselves in the national custom of cooking using locally produced beers.
For the starter, I chose Brouge Charcuterie - a selection of cold cured meats, cheese, duck and pork rilettes served with gherkins, pickled onions, homemade apple and plum chutney and homemade breads. Not as filling as it sounds and well presented. The star ingredient was the rilettes; a sort of coarse pate with great flavour and texture. My guest Helen enjoyed a baked Portobello mushroom with Italienne herbs and topped with grilled goats cheese.
All the Belgian faves
No choice for me for a main - it had to be that Belgian speciality, moules frites, on this occasion lemongrass and basil scented mussels cooked in coconut cream, served in a pot with fresh bread and a bucket of frites. As it happened this was a Brouge Endless Mussels Tuesday; eat as much as you like for a few pounds extra. One pot filled me but the waiter told us he saw a guy wade through eight recently! Whatever your capacity, it's great value.
Helen, meanwhile, chose slow roasted confit of Aylesbury duck leg, served with a roasted garlic and grape jus. This was accompanied by the Belgian treat stoemp - mashed potatoes but with a few added ingredients, usually root vegetables. Duck portions can sometimes be disappointing, but not here - plenty of tender meat on the bone.
For dessert, naturally it had to be the obligatory Belgian waffle served with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream; delicious, rich and filling even with one between two!
I was also keen to try one of their 40 Belgian beers and settled on Westmalle, a triple blond Trappist beer; meaning it's strong, light in colour and brewed by monks! I couldn't manage a second so switched to white wine and a glass of Australian Madfish Sauvignon Semillon 2008, which was more to my taste (couldn't find a Belgian wine anywhere - is there such a thing?).
A great evening
Brouge was a great evening out - good quality food, mid-priced, lovely dining area, excellent service, unusual and fun. There's one in Twickenham too, so who knows, this could be the start of a Belgian bid for culinary world domination!
3 other Surrey restaurants in unusual locations
The Clink, High Down Lane, Sutton SM2 5PJ: 0207 147 6524
Invitation only fine dining at the groundbreaking High Down Prison in Sutton
Thai Terrace, 7th Floor, Castle Car Park, Sydenham Road, Guildford GU1 3RT: 01483 503 350
Live the high life at this penthouse restaurant that is a firm fixture on the Guildford restaurant scene.
The Rubbing House, 34 Langley Vale Road, Epsom Downs
KT18 5LJ: 01372 745050
Just about as close as you can get to the action, with this pub on Epsom Downs racecourse.