Once upon a Belgian dream… Oktoberfest

Once upon a time, as fairytales often begin, two food & football fans wanted to enjoy a good Belgian meal to celebrate the victory of Belgium during one of the games for the European Football cup (We did say this was a fairytale!). Desperately looking for a decent place in London, our Anglo-Belgian and French-Canadian pioneers found themselves having to make do with a bowl of chips washed down with a Stella Artois.

In their quest to honour Belgian cuisine, our two valiant knights decided to launch Belgo, a restaurant dedicated to the perfect national match: beer and food. The place was such a great success that, 12 months later, a few square meters were added to the initial room. A second restaurant, Belgo Centraal, saw the light of day in Covent Garden in 1992.

Belgo collage

Like in every fairy tale, where miracles allow the wandering prince to find his perfect princess, Belgo’s magical recipe was held in three words: Moules, frites et bière; mosselen, frietjes en bier; mussels, chips and beer. Londoners come to enjoy the 73 beers selected from the finest breweries of Belgium and the freshness of the mussels which are consumed at a rate of seven tons a week.

Nevertheless, neither enchanted forest nor mysterious creatures welcome you to Belgo… and yet the waiters dressed as monks and make it their pleasure to elucidate all the mysteries of beers and Belgian specialties.

Biere

In a fairy tale, the legends that surround the main story are as important as the plot itself, creating the right atmosphere in which to enjoy the story.The same holds for Belgian beers: When enjoying a glass of Orval trappist beer, you may notice the fish printed on the glass.

Legend says that Countess Mathilde was walking next to a lake when her wedding ring fell into the water. Having lost her husband recently, her ring meant a lot to her and she prayed for the ring to be returned to her. A fish suddenly leapt from the water, holding the ring in its mouth. As a gratitude to God, Countess Mathilde decided to build a monastery on the lake’s shore

As with any successful quest, it is time to celebrate what made Belgo famous: the beer. For the occasion of Oktoberfest (Oct. 1st – 31st), and a friendly donation of £27.50, the restaurant will kick off the festifities with a 3-course menu of Belgian specialties, each matched to its own beer .

Starter Mussels

Among the starters, the Shelled mussels in a cream & De Koninck monay sauce with buttered leeks in a puff pastry case, paired with Brugs Wit is a fine introduction to Belgian cuisine with tasty mussels and a delicate sauce.  The pastry is light and the portion is ideal for a starter. The Brug Wit is soft and sweet, opening the palate for all the pleasures to come.
Starter Croquette

The crunchy yet creamy soft Belgian cheese croquettes made with Orval trappist beer served with Orval beer melt in the mouth. They are served with well-balanced sweet and sour piccalilli. The Orval beer is quite fruity, and is the ideal match for the tang  of the piccalilli.

Main Course Pastry
As a main course, my favourite goes to the puff pastry case filled with wild mushrooms in an Orval beer with Truffle cream sauce with asparagus spears and button onions matched with Steenbrugge Blond.
The well-rounded fruity hoppy beer cleanses your palate just so with every mouthful  to savour the delight of puff pastry perfection, smooth Truffle cream sauce, and crisp asparagus.
Main Course Carbonnade
The braised beef cooked in Faro beer, nutmeg and brown sugar paired with Mort Subite Gueuse is one of the classical Belgian dishes where the slow, 8-hour cooking process allows the meat to absorb all the flavours and release an even sweetness. The sweet and fruity Mort Subite Gueuse beer may have emphasized the sweetness of the dish a bit too much, though, and the portion was truly belgian.

Dessert
As an ode to Belgian chocolate, the Belgian dark chocolate cheesecake on a biscuit base with cherry beer coulis was the perfect choice for dessert. Each morsel is a pure pleasure to the palate, the spicy cherry beer coulis balancing nicely with the delicacy of the chocolate.
The paired Früli Strawberry beer was reminiscent of a fruit smoothie with a slightly more bitter taste; a good choice if you’re the kind of person who needs a sweet taste after a meal.

The Oktoberfest is the perfect example of the definition of Belgian cuisine: In the words of our master waiter, a combination of German portions with French culinary skills. German portions indeed. Make sure to have your stomach ready for a feast!

Belgo Centraal
50 Earlham Street
Covent Garden
London
WC2H 9LJ
Tel.0207 813 2233
www.belgo-restaurants.co.uk

17 thoughts on “Once upon a Belgian dream… Oktoberfest

  1. The starter sounds so delicious I’d like to sample it straight away! I generally think Belgian cuisine is much underrated- it’s a country where everything seems to taste good!

  2. I have never come across the legend of Countess Mathilde before. It is a beautiful tale and it makes me want to drink Belgian beer. What dreams will I encounter after imbibing glasses of Kwak and Duvel I wonder?

    Great post! ; )

    • Thanks Dan for your nice comment! It was great fun writing the post. I discovered some new great beers that night and despite the fact than I’m not a big fan of beers, some were very fruity and they got my votes! But my favourite still remains the Kriek. Kwak is a great one.. have you drunk it with a proper Kwak glass?! It’s a funny one

  3. I just returned from Europe – Germany included – so this post was a great read.

    Had lots of Kolsch, brats, brezels, thick and creamy soups, weinerschnitzel, sauerkraut….

    No food pairings though. Just pubs and grub.

  4. Hey Mathilde,

    I love your Belgo article and especially the story about Countess Mathilde. That’s a coincidence you sharing the name with her😉

    We just went to a Belgium restaurant in Camden two weeks ago and it was great too! I can’t remember the name anymore but I had some lovely food there. I’ve never had Belgium food before but defenitely would have it again.

    Great post!
    x

    • I really liked the story about Countess Mathilde too! The waiter was a very nice guy and he told us stories the whole evening. It was one of my first experiences with Belgian cuisine and I was positively surprised.

  5. Pingback: Once upon a Belgian dream… Oktoberfest | Faro Travel - Culture and Recreation

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