Restaurant review #8 Sans Cravate is one of the more classier restaurants (and hence more expensive ones) in Bruges. It is listed in the Michelin guide (2013-2014) with one star. Sans Cravate is located on the edge of the city center, in the North East side of town, in a completely renovated house in the Langestraat. There’s an accompanying B&B just on the other side of the street, not far from the restaurant.
When we first inquired into the possibilty of getting a vegan menu at Sans Cravate end of 2013, the owner mailed us that because of staff shortages, it was not possible at that time, but he advised us to inquire again in a couple of months time. And so we did, and in the beginning of 2014 we made a reservation for a 4-course vegan dinner (having explictly stated what we do and don’t eat – as we always do when inquiring at a restaurant).
We went there on a weekday evening. Sans Cravate is French for ‘without a tie’, and the atmposhere is indeed quite relaxed. Relaxed, but still with most of the oohs and aahs of wining and dining at a classy restaurant (long wine list, elaborate enumerations of what’s on your plate – too much to remember all actually, etc.). We were surprised there were not a lot of other guests (only 3 tables in total), but it is was a weekday night and maybe January is one of the calmer months of the year (with people still digesting their New year’s festive meals…).
To start, we had a glass of champagne (15€) and an alcohol free ginger beer with cucumber juice and fennel (10€) (very nice combination!) This was accompanied with some slices of roasted bread with basil leaves and a glass of tomato juice. Shortly after, we each had a plate-size basket filled with straw and an aluminium foil baked potato. This tiny one-inch potato was the only thing of the evening we found a bit ridiculous: too much fuss for what it was (and as such we even forgot to take a photo of it!)
Besides the salt, pepper and olive oil, we noticed a small plate with butter on our table (which was placed on each table marked ‘reserved’). Briefly, we tought this might perhaps be plant based butter, but we didn’t touch it and waited if the waiter would notice or explain what this was. When he was clearing the table after the second course, we finally asked, and oops, yes, cow butter indeed, let me take that away for you. Small lapse!
Next we got spicy soup of forest mushrooms, avocado with lemon and espuma (foam) of coconut cream with curry and marinated carrots (and celeriac too we think). Followed by different celery preparations, with radish, cucumber juice and Bruges cookie (yes we checked, it was said to be egg-free!).
This was followed by caramelised aubergine, tofu cream and black truffle. The photo probably doesn’t do this dish justice, but this was definitely yummie.
The main dish was couscous with cardoon, mash of artichoke, courgette, celery, tomato and homemade charissa.
Dessert was roasted pineapple, which was caramelised with rum and apple sorbet. Very exquisite!
Lunch is 3-course and is 35€. Dinner is either 4-course (60€), 5-course (74€) or 6-course (85€), also possible with accompanying wines (for prices: see website). For a vegan menu, you need to ask it in advance, when making the reservation (preferably at least 2 days in advance). The website mentions they serve only one menu on Saturday evening (as if often the case in the more upclass restos), but Sans Cravate assured us that with enough prior notice (a couple of days in advance at least), they are also willing to serve a vegan menu on Saturday evenings too.
We enjoyed our dining experience at Sans Cravate a lot. One of the things we really appreciate when going out for dinner is when the chef’s creations give you a new culinary experience: items you haven’t tasted before, preparations of which you wonder how on earth they make it so smooth and gentle, combinations of foods we would never have thought of ourselves. We found all of that at Sans Cravate, combined with friendly staff and comfortable seatings. Definitely one of our favourites so far.