Fodor's Expert Review De Karmeliet
Editor's Note: This location is no longer in operation.
A world-renowned culinary landmark, De Karmeliet is set in a stately, 18th-century house. Owner-chef Geert van Hecke's inventive kitchen changes the menu every two months, but the house style is an orgy of ingredients; the mignon and sweetbreads of veal with a crust of asparagus, fresh morel mushrooms, and garden peas is just one example. The waitstaff perfectly choreographs each course with a cool professionalism (remember to check out the wine list, which plumbs the best of international vintages) in keeping with the restaurant's formal ambience, set by the coved ceilings and gilt-framed paintings. But the showpiece is out back: an Italian-style garden replete with impressive topiaries and, all in all, one of the most stunningly graceful restaurant gardens in Europe. Prices are in keeping with the setting, with mains costing up to €120; however, a cheaper introduction to van Hecke's cooking can be found at his bistro De Refter (2 Molenmeers), where a set dinner menu for €37 offers excellent value.
Bruges, Flanders B8000, Belgium