Ghent. But its location in Covent Garden had ‘Tourist Trap’ flashing in gaudy letters at the back of my mind.
Luckily the attention to detail and execution of the food, and their knowledge in recommending beers, adds up to a really fantastic place to while away a few hours.
My reason for being at Belgo was an invite to a Belgian beer and lobster tasting event (hard lines, right?) to mark the launch of their Lobster month in July. I was expecting a fantastic freebie, and admittedly that’s exactly what I got, but there were two lasting impressions that I came away with from the evening that I admit I didn’t expect:
1. The head chef really knows his lobster, and exactly how to get the most out of their delicate flavour (cooked for just 6 minutes), that puts some over-priced London restaurants to shame.
2. Their beer sommelier is slightly scary, but a bloody wizard when it comes to recommending the perfect beer. It’s this advice and attention to detail, alongside actually listening to what people like, that makes a guy like this so valuable to any restaurant truly taking beer seriously.
Starting with the beer, I was purposefully vague and asked for something ‘strong and hoppy’, whilst Colette just asked for a ‘tart fruit beer’. With an ominous nod of the head he was off, leaving us wondering if he’d understood us completely and looking at each other slightly bemused. However a few minutes later he returned with a raspberry lambic of the sweet n sour variety for Colette and a really outstanding Troubadour Blonde for me to enjoy.
The Troubadour was smooth, yeasty and bitter with a really great herbaceous drying at the back of the palate. It’s a delicious beer and something that completely belies its strength with massive drinkability. Hoppy in that spicy Belgian way and exactly my sort of beer. Colette loved her fruity lambic, but it’s a beer for non-beer drinkers all be told. That said, it was exactly what she asked for and exactly to her tastes (though not mine).
A few more great recommendations on (Orval, Boon Marriage Parfait etc) and we were presented with the main event. A perfectly cooked lobster paired with a Belgian Wit brewed with coriander and orange peel.
The beer, Blanche de Bruxelles, was of the light and quaffable variety, which on its own may seem a little dull, but its sprightliness was a great choice with the lobster, as anything too full on would certainly mask the delicate flavour of the meat. As it was it worked pretty well as a pairing, the heavy carbonation and faint sourness helping to cut through the butter, and the orange citrus dovetailing with the squeeze of lemon and sweetness of the lobster.
Of the lobster itself, it was really perfectly cooked. Pulling easily away from the shell and without even a trace of the rubberiness that can creep in with overcooking (I’m looking at you Burger & Lobster).
The prices of the food are reasonable for what you ar getting, but by no means cheap. That said, under £20 for a lobster with sides is excellent, and the beers are about par for the course at around a fiver for most.
It’s not a budget choice by any stretch of the imagination but for the quality of food being served and the level of service you receive it represents great value for money.
All in all I really enjoyed Belgo, and we’ve already booked to go back in a few weeks time.
Belgian Beer and Lobster matching - Belgo, Covent Garden
Belgian Beer and Lobster matching - Belgo, Covent Garden Reviewed by Neil, Eating isn't Cheating on Tuesday, July 09, 2013 Rating: 5