The type of venue which hands out free cocktails to punters as they walk past is the kind of place I know I am going to get along with.
As I approach Belgo from Clapham North Tube station, in Clapham High Street, this is exactly what I’m greeted with, and I very much enjoyed sipping my Fruli strawberry beer martini as I make my way into the restaurant.
The Belgium franchise has restaurants dotted across London with Belgo’s in Covent Garden, Camden and Bromley, as well as the Clapham branch, which has become a familiar face on the South London drinking and dining scene.
And hungry diners will be silly to miss out on the restaurant’s latest offer running this month – menu Belgofest which offers a main meal and a drink for only £10.
My friend and I spend some time perusing the extensive beer menu. I’m not usually a big beer drinker, but the Belgo Pils beer on tap is extremely delicious and goes down nicely. My adventurous guest opts for a passion-fruit beer, exemplifying the exotic varieties on offer.
To warm up our stomachs the attentive waiter comes armed with a bread tin filled with a selection of soda, wholemeal and gruyere flat bread which comes with a delicious garlic mayo spread (£3.25).
Belgium is famous for its mussels and the vast majority of the Belgofest menu is made up of different takes on the dish. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to food so I go for the traditionelle kilo pot of moules served with frites. My guest choses poppei – an open moules platter topped with pancetta, creamed spinach, garlic and cheddar and served with frites.
If you’re not a shellfish fan there is also a selection of burgers and spit roasted chickens.
It takes me some time to wade through the kilo of moules, served the traditional way with a clear broth of white wine, celery, garlic and onion. I manage to eat two thirds of the dish but can’t quite get the last few mussels at the bottom. The waiters themselves admit to never being able to quite finish the whole kilo. Visitors definitely get their money’s worth and then some.
We’re loosening our belts a few notches but before we know it were tucking into desert – who could say no to a pud which features Belgium chocolate? The zoet plank is a fun offering of Irish cream, dark chocolate pots and caramel wafer biscuits, which just melt in the mouth. And to make things a little bit more interesting there are shots of fruit schnapps and cherry compote to wash it down with.
Belgofest is definitely helping keep the festival spirit alive and is a good offer at £10 to ease those feeling the pinch of over-spending this summer. I’m definitely going to visit again and might take my beer loving friends for an evening out at the bar too.
Belgo, Clapham High Street, Clapham, visit belgo-restaurants.co.uk or call 0207 720 1118.