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
Location: Covent Garden, Holborn, Camden, Clapham
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.
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.
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.