Belgo is London’s idea of what eating in Belgium is all about. Well, of course, it’s not. Its slogan – Moules -Frites-Bieres (Mussels, Chips, Beers) rather gives most of the menu away. As anyone who has ever been to Brussels or Liege or Ghent or Ostend knows, there is more than that.
But it’s a staple (like fish’n’chips in the UK) – and it’s no worse for that. And if you want to eat this Belgian concept, and, more importantly drink the beers, then this could be the place for you.
Belgo has been around for years and years. And for years and years, it was derided as a Belgian theme park with the waiting staff dressed up as monks and nuns.
Happily, that has gone. The staff now wear normal dress.
Belgo has four eateries in London – we went to Noord (only the place names use Flemish and then only when the word is easy for the English) which is in Camden Town, near the tourist trap market. It was the first Belgo, opened in 1992.
The starters – around £6.00 – are tasty but nothing special. We had Duck Croquettes and BBQ Wings. The croquettes came with chutney – there could have been more of them. The main point would seem to be us spending more time there to make a bit of an occasion rather than a quick meal.
Main courses range from steak to lobster. But mostly everyone has the moules/frites combination (£13.50)
This comes in variety of non-Belgian flavours such as Thai with chilli, ginger and garlic, or Kimchi (a nod towards Korea with hot spices and Pak Choi) but we went for what normal people eat. I had the Traditional made with garlic, celery, onion, butter and white wine while my dining partner went for the Moules Mariniere with a creamy sauce.
The portions were well-sized and flavoursome. The sauces were good, and the chips were just like in Brussels (with mayonnaise, naturally).
Our waiter was knowledgeable where it really counted – on the beers. There are over 60 beers – all strong and some very strong indeed. The highest alcohol count is 9 degrees. Most are around £6.
My partner went for a blond very strong Triple Karmeliet at 8.4 degrees. And I chose a Pauwel Kwak also at 8.4%, an amber beer which is served in a special glass which had a round bottom so always had to be replaced in its wooden holder. We ignored the wine list – only two pages against ten for the beers.
This is not cordon bleu dining. But if you want moules frites without taking the Eurostar, plus a range of beers probably unequalled in Brussels, this is a great place for a night out – or just a pre-theatre meal.
72 Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AN
Phone 020 7267 0718
Nearest stations Camden Town, Chalk Farm