Point Brugge’s “Cafe Chicken”

A brilliant cafe sandwich in the quaintest of cafes.

In one of my earlier posts, I referenced a theoretical “Favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh” list that, if obligatory, would be a difficult list to compose. I included the venerable Chicken Latino, and now I have another one to tell you about: Point Brugge. The Brugge is an absolutely delightful, inspired slice of European dining, transported from the middle of Belgium to the corner of Hastings Street over in Point Breeze. The place itself is small (seating about 40 at the most), the menu is small (listing 15-16 dishes, depending on seasonal availability), but both the character and quality of Brugge are huge. The staff are always in good spirits, there’s always a good soundtrack, and the decor, combined with optimal lighting, gives the whole restaurant a distinctly warm European atmosphere. It’s fine dining for people with dignity and an actual appetite.

Now, I typically ordered their bolognese, formerly my favorite pasta in the entire world, but on my most recent venture it was no longer on the menu. So, I thought to myself, what does any good sandwich-teur do in such a situation? Order a sandwich, of course. I’d been interested in trying their “Cafe Chicken” sandwich for a good time, but it was nearly impossible to drag myself away from the pasta. This time they made the decision for me!

So, this sandwich. Technically, Brugge is “Point Brugge Cafe”, so it makes sense that one of their (admittedly limited) sandwich choices would be a cafe sandwich. But don’t think that it lacks substance: this thing is all business. The ‘wich is made up of “grilled chicken breast on a toasted baguette with fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, romaine and our basil mayo.” A good thing to know about Brugge: their baguettes are off the charts. The crunch and crust you get on the outside, paired with the luxuriously soft inside, makes for some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.

But anyway, onwards to the ‘wich! It may be called the “Cafe Chicken” sandwich, but don’t let the name fool you: there are multiple stars here, and surprisingly enough, the chicken isn’t necessarily one of them. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken is certainly a key part; it lays a great, mild base for the rest of the ingredients to paint upon, almost like a canvas to the augmentation. The grilling is a good touch, if only because it leaves you with the flavor of the chicken without overwhelming the sandwich with much else. It’s like a bank heist: you get the flavor of the chicken and then you get out.

However, it’s in the first bite that you realize the true star of this ‘wich: the fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers and basil mayo triad is to die for. It’s quite possibly the best sandwich topping ingredient combination I’ve experienced here on PittWich because of how well it works with the chicken. The juxtaposition of the creamy mozzarella, the soft red peppers and the smooth basil mayo against the more firm chicken breast give you two spectacular textures at once, and that’s only on the level of feel; the flavors are even more impressive. First, the mozzarella’s mildness is akin to the chicken’s, but the cooling effect of the cold cheese makes it a noticeably different mild. That, combined with the creaminess it brings, resulted in my considering the mozzarella the true star of the ‘wich: it drives the other flavors as both a base and an extremely active ingredient.

Then you bring in the roasted red peppers which, as I may have mentioned previously in the Cafe on the Strip post, my father and I have concluded have the power to make literally any sandwich in the entire world better just with their presence between the bread. They add the most flavor here, with the smokiness of the roasting come through nicely on top of the other, relatively mild components. And then this leaves us with their basil mayo, one of the best homemade condiments in Pittsburgh, no questions asked. It’s got a delicious bite to it, using the basil to it’s advantage to cut through an otherwise calm mayonnaise to make one of the best dips/sauces/sources of love I’ve had in a long time. When they spread it on the toasted baguette… oh lord. Now I’m hungry.

While Point Brugge may not seem like the ideal place to stop in and get a sandwich, believe me when I say I’d be remiss to overlook this ‘wich. As I’ve been noting recently, the sandwich architecture (that is, utilizing ingredients that compliment each other both in flavor and texture) is impeccable, and creates one of the more interesting sandwich experiences in Pittsburgh.

Point Brugge Cafe on Urbanspoon

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