It was the fireplace that first caught my eye.
It was one of those cold, rainy days in Bruges that chills you to the bone. Though the sun had been out earlier with its promise of spring to come, the afternoon’s wet dropped temperatures to an uncomfortable level. My socks squelching in my boots, there was no way I could resist the siren’s call of that big, roaring fire.
Nestled among touristy cafes sporting 6 foot tall statues of french fries in a cone, you may not notice Heer Halewijn at first. A small restaurant and wine bar, it has no hawkers thrusting menus at you nor signs promising infamous Belgian waffles. In fact, if not for a fire burning bright on a dark, rainy night, you might walk past without even glancing at it. I had certainly thought I’d only stop for a glass of wine and a warm-up. But this small, intimate restaurant has a romantic charm that draws you in immediately. As soon as I walked inside, I knew I’d be staying a while.
Our hostess told us they like to keep things simple at Heer Halewijn. And they do. The restaurant boasts only 8 tables. It’s a cash-only establishment and the nearest ATM is a good 10 minute walk away. The menu is small — only meat dishes and baked potatoes that can be cooked in that big fireplace that first proved so alluring. The dishes come to your table accompanied by a simple, green salad. The wine list is more comprehensive but lists options by label so you can simply point instead of trying to stutter out the correct pronunciation. But Heer Halewijn proves, once again, that the simplest things are often the best.
My meal of entrecote, exquisitely prepared in the fireplace, was perfectly paired with a lovely Pinot Noir. The service was impeccable. The ambiance (and, yes, again, that fireplace) of the small, brick venue had me warm and cozy in no time. And like the city of Bruges itself, the meal had a timeless charm that I am unlikely to soon forget.
Tel: 050/33 92 61
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 6:30pm – 10:00pm
Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Staudt
Related: Beautiful Belgium Beaches