Brugge has everything, beautiful architecture, winding rivers, bustling markets and plenty of traditional pubs, but what is doesn’t have is gluten free! I found Brugge to be the most difficult place I have visited in terms of food since being diagnosed with a gluten allergy 4 years ago. Brugge is a very small city compared to Brussels, which has a wider variety of allergy free food. However, I still managed to eat during the two days I was there so here are my tips for anyone planning on a gluten free trip to Brugge:
Bring your own bread rolls to dinner/ lunch
I asked in every restaurant if they had any on offer and none did, in fact a lot of places hadn’t heard of, or understood what I was asking for even with the phrases I had learnt (more about that later). There are a couple of supermarkets selling ‘special
diet’ foods listed below incase you forget to bring
some bread / snacks with you:
(central Brugges – 2 locations) Selling bread, biscuits, pasta and desserts:
Bio planet (on
the outskirts) Sint-Pieterskaai 53, 8000 Brugge. They sell a large variety of
gluten free products but it is a walk / bike ride out of the main centre:
I didn’t see any restaurants offering gluten free alternatives on their menus and I spent a lot of time researching before we went with little luck. However, we went out for dinner on Saturday night to celebrate mine and my my friends birthday. We booked a grill restaurant called The Hobbit Grill thinking that there should be grilled fish/meat and salads for me to eat. I was in luck, when I asked the front of house she told me the ribs (their speciality) were totally gluten free (see left) and she offered to make me some jacket potatoes in replacement of the bread that came with them. The ribs were delicious and came with garlic butter to smother
on them and most of our table had them. There was no indication on the menu that they were GF so my tip would be to always ask or ring ahead to save your self time walking round numerous restaurants. The ribs were all you can eat too with a side salad for 19 EUR so we didn’t need any starters or desserts which made the meal pretty good value (which is good as Brugge is very expensive for food!) Keep a look out for cafes selling omelettes (there are quite a few of these) as they are a filling /breakfast lunch option and were my only option for breakfast/ lunch whilst I was there! Here are a couple of other places I found from my research that have possible GF options:
The market in Zand Sqaure
Don’t miss the market which is on Saturdays in Zand Square. Although there’s lots of bread and pastry stalls (no sign of GF ) there were some cheese and meat stands so you could grab something to make your own sandwich plus a couple of fresh fruit and yoghurt stalls – a good idea for a cheap quick breakfast on the go.
Beer, Beer, Beer!
Belgian Beers are a tourist attraction in their own right because ever pub, restaurant, supermarket has masses of them on offer and its even found in the food! Beers are obviously a total no go for coeliacs/GF. I researched a list of gluten free Belgian beers but not one pub we visited had any 😦
This was very disappointing having to watch my 8
friends I travelled with sample their way through all the different beers! I did, however, find one brand in a supermarket called Mongozo which has a GF beer in its range but it would have been nice to have these sold in a pub so I could enjoy them cold with my friends. I bought a few bottles of Mongozo Gluten Free Pilsner back to the UK for me to sample. Here are some other brands to look out for too:
Greens is sold in the UK and Belgium
Somersby Cider : OK so its not beer but its a good alternative and I did see this on offer in a few pubs
It appears the two languages found mostly in Belgium is Flemish and French. Here are some useful phrases I used whilst there but please take into consideration that the restaurant staff might not understand what a gluten free diet is. Always read the back of food packets too and look at translations as often there is no English.
- Je suis allergique/j’ai développé une intolérance: au gluten/au blé/au siegle/à l’orge/à l’avoine
- [I have an allergy/intolerance to: gluten/wheat/rye/barley/oats]
- Does this food contain flour or grains of wheat, rye, barley or oats?
- Pouvez-vous me dire si cette nourriture contient de la farine ou des grains de blé, de seigle, d’orge ou d’avoine?
- La farine de blé / au blé
- Wheat flour / wheat
- Ik ben allergisch aan gluten/tarwe/rogge/gerst/haver
- I have an allergy/intolerance to: gluten/wheat/rye/barley/oats
- Bevat het voedsel tarwebloem of granen van tarwe, rogge, gerst of haver?
- Does this food contain wheat flour or grains of wheat, rye, barley or oats?
- Dat tarwe