By Maggie Majstrova
First of all, I have to start by saying that BELGO is one of my favourite restaurants in London – I used to work in Covent Garden many moons ago, and it’s remained one of those places I tend to come back to, especially if I want a ‘quick and easy’ lunch, which I know will deliver every time. Or so I thought.
Having the pleasure of my dad’s company for a few days, I decided to book the two of us and my fiancé in for an early lunch, over which we could decide what to do with the rest of an April Saturday, while tucking into some of my favourite food.
I’ve always enjoyed the ‘theatre’ or arriving at BELGO Centraal – the main waiting area is on a foot bridge, which sort of overhangs the kitchen, so even if you have to wait for a table to become free, you have something to do, as you watch the well-oiled machine that is the BELGO kitchen staff.
This time though, with our reservation and the fact that BELGO had only just opened 30 minutes before we got there, we were ushered to our tables instantly. Now aside from the mussels, to which I’ll come later, the other reason I come back to BELGO repeatedly is their selection of Delirium beers.
I actually had the pleasure of visiting a Delirium pub in Brussels a few years ago (if you get the chance, make sure you go!) and of course that’s got nothing on BELGO, but still the selection is pretty good, with a whole half of the menu dedicated to the beers.
I was excited to see BELGO had added their own beers to the menu since my last visit and so couldn’t resist ordering us each a pint of wheat beer (I didn’t quite have the guts for a stein at 12:30 on a Saturday) and at £5.35 a pint, I have to recommend it. You MAY have sussed I’m not only partial to a good beer, but a good wheat beer in particular, and that this was.
As far as I’m concerned though, there is one reason to keep coming back to BELGO: their Moules Frittes. Though I’m told other mains are available and very tasty! We went for two lots of moules frittes traditionale (white wine and cream sauce, with celery and onion) and one of chorizo moules frittes, which are in a tomato-based sauce with (surprise surprise) chorizo (£13.50 each).
Up till now, I’d have whole-heartedly recommend you drop everything and get yourself down to your nearest BELGO for a serving of their mussels. But this time (and for the first time ever) I was disappointed. The sauce was great as usual, but the mussels themselves were gritty and the chips weren’t the traditional French fries, which to me is how they should be.
I’m willing to put this down to a new chef or our keen-ness for getting the BELGO just as they’d opened, but I have to say, it’s not really helped me feel less disappointed. My companions weren’t feeling as down as I was, I have to admit, but you may have guessed BELGO has (up until this point) held a special place in my heart, so perhaps my expectations were much higher.
In an attempt to finish the meal on a high note, we ordered desserts and coffee. A cheesecake, three scoops of ice cream and a ‘make your own’ waffle (£5.50 each) promptly arriving in front of us.
Unfortunately, even these didn’t save the day.
I’d opted for the salted caramel, honey and ginger ice cream and an orange sorbet. Two of which were perfectly satisfying, but the salted caramel ice cream would have been more aptly named ‘salty ice cream with some caramel’. The balance was completely off, with the main flavour being salt and every so often a tiny hint of caramel.
The cheesecake was actually pretty good, but was mis-sold to use before it arrived. My fiancé has a bit of a weird thing about cheesecakes with toppings so before I ordered it for him, I made sure I asked what sort it was – I was told ‘just a normal vanilla cheesecake’, which it wasn’t. It was actually caramel (with a topping!) and was perfectly fine – if you were expecting caramel, that is.
Finally, the waffle was pretty good – the idea is you get to choose if you’d like a waffle or a crepe and two toppings (ice cream and chocolate in our case). I’m willing to ignore the fact we ordered white chocolate and got milk chocolate instead in order to save at least some good points for my latest visit at BELGO.
Try as I may, I can’t seem to shake one overwhelming feeling about my lunch date at BELGO Centraal: disappointing. I can’t bring myself to give up on BELGO though and hope for better luck next time!