GUEST POST: Ed Eaton reviews Belgo

Here at londonfood4afiver we really care what you think. Ed Eaton, friend and longtime supporter of this very blog, has written a rather fantastic review of Belgo for us.

Mussels from Brussels

Name: Belgo

Type: Belgian

Location: Covent Garden, Holborn, Camden, Clapham

Rating: £££

Apparently, Belgo has been a London institution since 1992, but for some reason I only discovered it in 2011, which is odd considering you’ll never be far from one of their four London restaurants. Perhaps it’s because, like many things Belgian, Belgo is easy to overlook but very good at what it does. Think TinTin, Poirot, and Jean-Claude Van Damme…actually scratch that last one, who you overlook at your own peril.

Damme I could do with a Belgian beer right about now

Speaking of Belgian muscles, Belgo’s speciality is mussels, which come in a creamy mariniere sauce and a hearty serving of chips. Impress your friends by informing them that it’s actually ok to eat the ones that haven’t opened. Not a fan of mussels? There are plenty more dishes to choose from, which all look very pleasant, although none have tempted me so far. If you’re feeling fancy maybe sample one of the many Belgian beers, although you might want to make sure you’ve nothing important to do afterwards as some contain up to 12% alcohol.

Picture of some mussels

Belgo’s set-up is simple and fast, and although the food might not have you sprinting for the next Eurostar to Brussels, it is consistently tasty and filling. It might be hard to get excited about Belgium – one of its leading politicians was described as having the “charisma of a damp rag”, perhaps a touch unfair – but to its credit Belgo tries its best. If you go to the flagship Covent Garden branch you’ll actually be served by Belgian monks (authenticity questionable).

You can get the best bang for your buck by taking advantage of their lunchtime offers, or their ‘beat the clock’ deal, where you pay the price of the time you order between 5pm and 7pm. Although good value, Belgo might be a bit of a stretch for the £5 purists among you, but it is just about doable if you manage to order your food at 5pm exactly (not a minute before mind), drink only tap water, and make your waiter cry by demanding they remove the service charge, an added insult considering they have to walk around in a monk’s cloak all day. But for the Eurosceptics among you, or just the plain heartless, I’m sure you’ll manage this just fine.

Apologies to Belgium.

Ta Ed!

The 6 best websites to get restaurant DEALS from.

I love a deal, you love a deal. WE ALL LOVE A GOOD DEAL. Here are the best sites that offer vouchers to help you save those pennies – and as my Grandma always says ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.’

GROUPON

Vouchercodes

For meals that won't break the bank.

Moneysavingexpert

Gourmet Society

Restaurantvoucherslive

Crunchlunch

Print a few off and shove them in your bag, they always come in handy. DO remember to check the date, as I once went to Pizza Express with an out of date voucher and it was HUMILIATING.

A date with our friend blog Nest: Keu!, Old Street

Name: Keu!

Type: Vietnamese

Location: Old Street, EC1V 9DR

Rating: ££££

To clarify our mission in life is to find places to eat for people in London trying to live well on small incomes/no income. That’s why we were delighted to befriend Nest Blog who are all about helping those who can’t afford to buy a house just yet enjoy the renter’s lifestyle. I met up with their East London Rep Miranda to find a cheap eat in Old Street. Here is her take on the fiver friendly vietnamese Keu!

I’ve tried to go to Keu before. Dragged there by a Vietnamese-desperate revision buddy dying for a banh mi (that’s baguette to you and I) whose sulk at finding it closed on a Bank Holiday Monday lasted all the way to the reduced section at the Barbican Waitrose.
Luckily, when we turned up on a drizzly Old Street lunchtime, it was open. This was a good start. The cool, kooky interior with its shelves bulging with over-priced coconut-based drinks enticed me further. Exciting ingredients scrawled in chalk made my tummy rumble.
This warm fuzzy glow lasted approximately until the menu perusal. Is there anything more annoying than being told you can’t have what you want, especially in a voice only those with a hearing-aid might be able to pick up?
Add to this the sneaky addition of a sitting-in-charge. Keu, I appreciate your interior is better than any nearby bench, but I’d like the option of paying 20p to be on my terms, thank you very much.


Enough grumbling and onto the food. I went for the crispy pork banh-mi, aka a jazzy bacon-bits butty priced at £4.50 (if you leave the premises to scoff it). A baguette packed with frazzled pig, cushioned with lots of fun veggie bits like vermicelli, spring onion, coriander and chilli made my taste buds tingle. Did it hit the spot? The hipster parts of my tongue may have been happy, but I still needed a pack of strawberry logs from a City Road offie to round off lunch.

Verdict: Keu do better

Londonfood4afiver’s verdict:

The venue is nice, the food tastes good and it fills you for at least half an hour so definitely worth a visit.

KNOW SOMEWHERE BETTER? TELL US.

GUEST POST: How to get lunch for the week for £5

In a previous post Anna voiced a problem a lot of us have:

“I’m a student and I don’t have enough money to spend £5 on lunch everyday, anyway to get this stuff out for even cheaper or is that pushing it?”

LUCKILY, the creator of Look what I found! The place to share your vintage and second hand finds Harriet Thurley has stepped in to show you how to get 5 days (that’s a working week FYI) worth of lunches for £5 in total (no word of a lie). And you can trust her since she’s so cheap she only wears secondhand clothes.

Here is her how to:

I’ve never met The Sandwich Man. He lurks in the depths of a warehouse off Exmouth Market. I think of him as a great pal, a Samaritan even, an inspiration. Why? You won’t believe me when I tell you: he gives me lunch for an entire working week for under a fiver!


Five fresh, delicious sandwiches from Monday to Friday at 90p a pop. They’re cheaper than the cover price as these sandwiches are part of the Sandwich Man’s catering empire. He delivers his baked creations to people with jobs in offices at higher prices and the ones they reject get delivered back to his warehouse where the unemployed can get them for discount prices.

Here’s what was on my menu last week:

Monday – Bacon and brie baguette (90p)

Tuesday – Pasta arrabatia (they even heat it up for you) (£1.50)

Wednesday – Cheese and pickle roll (50p)

Thursday – Wensleydale cheese and chutney roll (90p)

Friday – Houmous, tuna and pepper baguette (90p)

Total – £4.70, so I can even treat myself to a 50p can of fizzy pop on a Friday (if I find 20p on the floor).

This isn’t the extent of the goods on offer, though. Get pasta (heated, optional), hot jacket potatoes (cold, optional, but gross), curries, noodles and pastries too. (NB. Some of these may set you back £1.50!)

The Sandwich Man has kept me fed and watered while I’ve been a short-of-cash student. For that, I am eternally grateful.

His location is top secret (bar the tiny hint above). I’ll leave you to hunt him out for yourself. Go on, smell him out.

Rating: £££££

So there you have it, cheap cheap lunches. particulary handy for students of City University but worth hunting out for all.

GUEST POST: Nachos at Wetherspoons, Angel Islington

We’re excited to feature a review especially for Londonfood4afiver from one of our favourite new food blogs Nacho Times who have kindly sought out some fiver friendly nachos. 

Name: Wetherspoons

Location: Opposite Angel Tube Station

Price: £4.10

Rating: £££

There is nothing wrong with eating at Wetherspoons. For some reason, there seems to be a stigma attached to the chain and suggesting a Spoons-based snack can result in strange looks  or hysterical laughter. Why anyone would joke about eateries is beyond me. It’s not exactly a comedic goldmine.

Anyway, one reason to go there is the nachos. As a devoted nachoist, I have sampled triangles of glory all over London in search of the ultimate mouth party. Wetherspoons remains the most surprisingly consistent purveyor of chos. The best thing is the size in relation to the price. £4.10 for small nachos and they’re filling and adequately sized. In fact, I’d go as far as to say they tend to make for cracking meals (if not shared) alongside something with more nutritional value. Like a salad. Or some blueberries.

But why not just take a swim in Lake Nacho and savour the experience without any side orders clamouring for your tongue’s attention? They’re warm. The cheese is soft. The relishes utilised are spot on both in amount and flavour. You can order large nachos and be forced to “have a little sit” while the party dies down, or small nachos for an acute hit and room for more Strongbow (other ciders are available)

No, they’re not the best nachos I’ve ever reviewed, but you get a lot more joy than the meagre pricetag would have you believe. They’re satisfying, enjoyable, and you get change from a five pound note. What’s better than that? A lot of things actually, now I come to think of it. Like getting them for free. Or being paid to eat them. Or finding £50,000 in your coat pocket. But it’s still a Very Good Thing.

For more Nacho related updates (if you’re feeling too rich for our blog- show off) head to NACHO TIMES

What do you like to eat in the Summertime?

Vote, and we will find the cheapest way to make your Summer (food) dreams come true.

Where do YOU eat?

Sarah Brown, 23, is a vegetarian who works in Westminster. She regularly takes advantage of the Boots Meal Deal 'because I can have a different combination every time I go in!'

The lovely readers of londonfood4afiver tell us where they go for lunch. Thanks for getting in touch guys, and to the rest of you don’t be shy. We’d LOVE to know where you frequent come 1pm.

Meghan, 23, is an actress. To stay looking trim she 'pops into Wasabi for some sushi. It's healthy, tasty and doesn't break the bank!'

Germander, 22, loves Moules Mariniere and satisfies her hunger at Belgo in Holborn. 'It's great, and if you go before 5pm its only a fiver!'

Kai, 24, heads to LEON in Spitalfields for his lunch. 'It rarely comes to over a fiver, and I'm always so full afterwards.'