Red Thai Lobster
So you can imagine that I was intrigued to hear about the LobsterFest and jumped at an invitation to review the LobsterFest menu. I do want to emphasise that this was an inviatation to review the restaurant so I (along with Food Stories, Cheese and Biscuits, Eat Like a Girl and Hollow Legs) did not have to pay a penny which does always make the food taste a little bit nicer but I will try to be as objective as possible. The lobster tasting was held at Belgo Centraal which is a cavernous basement restaurant deep in the bowels of Covent Garden. There are three other Belgo restaurants in London. I do generally try to avoid reviewing chain restaurants but I suppose I have reviewed Ottolenghi which has three cafes in London now so perhaps I can bend the rules slightly and tell you about Belgo. Don’t worry though you are not about to see reviews of McDonald’s or Carluccio’s posted up here.
Belgo Centraal is big and noisy. It is the mother ship of Belgian restaurants in London. Long wooden tables line the space and you are served by waiters wearing what is supposed to look like a Trappist monk outfit. I do always feel sorry for waiters wearing novelty outfits however our waiter toed the Belgo line admirably and insisted that he quite enjoyed wearing his flowing robes. We started with the entrees which were priced from £5 to £8.50 (which is actually half a lobster). This is ridiculously cheap for Lobster. The only problem was that I was not so impressed with what Belgo had actually done with the lobster. The Red Thai Lobster which was half a lobster baked and topped with thick curry sauce did not taste to me either of Thai flavours or lobster. The curry sauce totally drowned out the delicate lobster meat and the curry itself was bland and totally lacked any of the subtleties of Thai cooking. Lobster Thermidor suffered from the same problems. The lobster was baked and topped with a gooey cheese, mustard and beer sauce. I know this is what a thermidor is supposed to be like and this was perfectly good example of lobster thermidor but once again you couldn’t taste the lobster at all.
Surf and Turf
The pick of the entrees on offer was the lobster bisque. The deep red soup had a pungent aroma and the taste was silky and rich. It was so rich that I think I would struggle to finish a whole bowl. I could not resist trying the Surf and Turf. I just love the name. Half a lobster was grilled and served with garlic butter a 6 ounce rib eye steak, frites and salad (£16.95). This is as cheap as you will get anywhere for this type of meal and the lobster was delicious, the garlic sauce did not overpower the fresh from the sea shell filled with feathery light lobster meat. The rib eye steak was not the best quality cut of meat and a little bland but at these prices it was a good value meal. If you are looking for something slightly lighter try the lobster salad which is a whole lobster rearing above a salad proper of spring onions, green beans and carrots doused with a light port and lemon dressing.
From the dessert menu the best choice was the white chocolate mousse which was a little round of moussed ringed with a thin layer of dark chocolate. The pistachio ice cream with dark chocolate sauce was more show than substance arriving in a huge sundae glass but only delivering a watery approximation of pistachio flavour.
If you are after cheap lobster I think you would be hard pushed to find better value than Belgo’s LobsterFest menu. Go for the plain grilled Lobsters to really appreciate the lobster flavour. If you are a beer connoisseur you will enjoy the fact that Belgo has paired the lobster dishes to different Trappist beers. Personally though I am going to leave Lobster as the sort of thing I eat on a special occasion or when I am by the sea.
Details: 50 Earlham Street, Covent Garden WC2H 9LJ (Ph 020 7813 2233)
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve (although free for me)
If you liked this and you are in the mood for seafood check out London’s renowned seafood restaurant J Sheekey (although be warned prices are a lot steeper). If you are in the Covent Garden area why not check out the brilliant but tiny Giaconda Dining Room.