Brouge is an odd way of spelling the pretty Belgian town of Bruges, and its name indicates a loose connection with Belgium. The menu is more British than Belgian, but there is an impressive lengthy menu of around 50 Belgian beers.The dining room is split over two levels in a basement near Richmond bridge (there is a sister branch in Twickenham). Décor is pleasant and simple, with a wooden floor and white walls, with subdued lighting (hence no food photos).Starters are £4.25 - £6.25, main courses £8.25 - £14.95, and desserts £4.25 - £6.95. If you don’t fancy beer then there is a short wine list, with ambitiously priced choices such as Saam Shiraz 2007 at £21 for a wine that costs around £6 retail; most wines are in this sort of price range, though for any investment bankers who got lost on the way to Belgravia there is also Dom Perignon 1999 at £140 (fairly priced considering it costs over £93 retail).
A celeriac soup was a little thin but tasted of celeriac, and had adequate seasoning. It was let down by the remarkably doughy bread that it was served with, which was so dense that I was surprised that light did not bend around it. This is an easy thing to fix, and really should be (1/10 for the soup; no mark exists that would describe the bread adequately). Better was duck and pork rillettes (i.e. salted meat and fat), which had decent texture and pleasant taste, served with some peculiarly unevenly toast, and some tomato salsa, which helped balance the richness of the rilette (1/10).
A special of rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce featured rather ordinary quality meat with some stringy texture (and cooked a long way past the medium-rare requested) but a pleasant peppercorn sauce helped gloss over the meat, which was also served with a simple green salad (0/10). Chips were actually quite good, thin and fairly crisp (3/10). Risotto of globe artichoke with leeks and mushroom was made reasonably well, topped with rocket leaves and Parmesan shavings; the rice would have benefitted from a better stock but the ingredients were properly cooked (1/10).
For dessert Belgian waffle was served with maple syrup and adequate vanilla ice cream, a simple but enjoyable dish (1/10).White chocolate and orange pot was topped with crushed raspberries; this had more orange flavour than white chocolate but was served with a pair of very nice warm shortbread biscuits (1/10). Service was friendly and capable this evening, with dishes arriving at a steady pace, and sound advice on the beers from our waiter.
The formula of Belgian beer and decent, simple food seems to have gone down well with the locals, and the restaurant was packed out on this early weekday evening. This is not serious cooking, but it is perfectly pleasant, inexpensive and is a step up from the formulaic cooking of most high street chains.