Belgo

Lobster to many people signifies a special occasion or something that you order at a fancy restaurant. Belgo is trying to change that perception during “Lobster Fest” where the restaurant offers a special menu during the month of June with lobster from £5. Belgo is not the sort of place I would usually order lobster. It is more well known for mussels from Brussels (which it does very well) and specialty Trappist beers and is the sort of place where you can have a filling meal for a cheap price.

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)
5/10

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.Belgo Centraal on Urbanspoon

Gourmet Chick was invited to review Belgo and received a complimentary meal and drinks.  All restaurant reviews except where stated are conducted anonymously and paid for personally.  
Posted by: on June 1st, 2009     8 Comments »

Category: Restaurants - Belgian, Restaurants - Budget, Restaurants - Seafood, WC2
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8 Comments on “Belgo”

  1. Helen said at 9:27 am on June 1st, 2009:

    I agree with your review. My favourite was probably the lobster salad – because you cuold actually taste the lobster. The thermidor was the worst I thought.

  2. Top bird said at 6:38 pm on June 1st, 2009:

    Great review – I’ve read about Belgo and have been meaning to check it out as the prices sounded quite reasonable. xx

  3. Helen Yuet Ling Pang said at 9:30 pm on June 1st, 2009:

    When I received my invite, I decided not to go to this event as Belgo isn’t a place I’d normally eat at (even though I love lobster). It seems I made the right decision. Where on earth do Belgo source their lobster at that price?

  4. neil said at 9:44 pm on June 1st, 2009:

    I used to live opposite the one on Clapham high street. I had a lobster that was forgettable but I really really like their burgers.

    Worst london lobster award has to go to live bait in Covent Garden. Like chewing the wheel on your old bmx.

  5. Lizzie said at 8:46 am on June 2nd, 2009:

    I agree whole heartedly with your review. It was lovely to meet you!

  6. Gourmet Chick said at 9:04 am on June 2nd, 2009:

    Helen: Agreed the lobster salad was probably the best of the lot.

    Top Bird: It is quite reasonable and I have to say the mussels are very good for a cheap feed and the unadorned lobster is worth a try if you are there in June.

    Helen: the lobster is all from Nova Scotia and ordered in especially for the event. I do think Belgo fits a spot in the market for good value for money dining but not sure how lobster fits in with that.

    Neil – great analogy I love it (although I have never chewed the wheel on a bmx I must admit)

    Lizzie – thanks nice to meet you in person too after following your posts for a while.

  7. lesley said at 9:12 am on June 3rd, 2009:

    Excellant review, & I totally agree with you on the lobster, which is my absolute favourite dish. I cannot understand why chef’s spoil a good dish by hiding it under a blanket of cheese, why not serve the cheesy bit separately? (if you must). 1st time I ate lobster was in Jersey years ago, I thought it would be great to have a lobster thermidor in a posh restaurant…how mistaken was I!!! Just tasted of cheese, could have had Welsh Rarebit, it would have been a lot cheaper!

  8. Elsie said at 9:26 pm on September 14th, 2011:

    Thanks for the post! I actually enjoyed the express menu when I was there and the food and prices was excellent! :)


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