My first meal in London did not disappoint! A good friend took me to a Belgian eatery tonight, called "Belgo". They specialize in mussels, and it's one of those things where if you'd asked me what I was hungry for, I wouldn't have come up with this in a thousand years. But as soon as he mentioned their specialty, I was suddenly salivating for those plump, delicious orange jewels, with some perfectly crisp Belgian frites and a cold beer to wash it all down. He even tried to tell me other things they served. Why bother? I mean really. YUM.
He warned me on our way there that we may have to wait for a table. He'd checked online and no reservation was available until after 9pm. But he insisted it was worth the wait, so off we went. We were told it'd be a 10-20 minutes wait by the hostess, and saddled up to the bar.
One little bit of "false advertising"… at the bar upstairs, they have an impressive display of bottled beers. However they only actually server from a limited selection in that bar. For the real menu, you have to go downstairs. Owell, two Leffe Blonde's please. The Palm (a beer I've only ever seen in Holland) would have to wait until later. It's a furnace upstairs as the kitchen is right below you with an open ceiling, so all the heat gets trapped in this little waiting bar. But hey, that just makes the beer taste that much sweeter!
Our table was ready in under 10 minutes, and we were pointed downstairs by host#1 where hostess#2 took over and guided us to our table. It's a packed place, picnic bench style seating, loud and pungent of cooked mussels and spilled beer. It couldn't be more perfect if they tried.
I ordered a starter "Salad de Poire et Stilton" and the mussel pot "Mariniere Traditionnelle". Both were delicious. The salad was refreshing and just enough to get the belly started, and the mussels were cooked to simple perfection. The fries were deliciously crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, served with a bit of Belgian mayonnaise. To be completely honest my bowl seemed to be from the bottom of the basket; all the small bits. But they were still delightful and nothing to complain about.
On the way in and out, you pass the kitchen. We took a little walk over the catwalk to peer down to the inner workings; busy place.
50 Earlham Street
Convent Garden, London, WC2H 9LT
rating: 4 feet
verdict: Delicious. Absolutely would go again. If you like mussels, this is the place to go. Their beer selection is mightily impressive, just head downstairs to drink it!