BIERODROME Belgo Clapham
44 – 48 Clapham High Road
London SW4 7UR
Reviewed on Monday 4 May 2009
Having studied in Brussels for several years I was interested to eat at the Belgo restaurant. It is a chain and there are a few in London. They are specialised into moules & frites (fries), a little like Léon de Bruxelles chain you find in France. The place is divided into two areas: the restaurant and the pub. We tried the restaurant at lunch time.
Overview of the restaurant room
The restaurant is a large room with nothing special. It could be a hospital canteen. It does not have the charm of an old pub, but it is spacious. I do not believe the staff are from Belgium – they certainly did not speak French or Dutch between themselves.
As starters we ordered the grilled goats cheese served on a crouton with roquette, roast peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and walnut dressing (£5.95) and a warm salad of smoked bacon, shredded duck, eggs & black pudding with garlic croutons and a Dijon mustard dressing (£5.95). There are other interesting starters like the very Belgian croquettes with cheddar, gruyère & Orval beer cheese served with piccalilli & salad garnish (£4.95) or King prawns pan-fried in garlic, chilli, ginger & herb butter (£6.95).
The grilled goats cheese looked too burnt but they were in fact excellent. They were not overcooked and the taste was good. The warm salad was very very average. The smoked bacon, the shredded duck or the black pudding were just too tiny bits to be able to taste them well. The slices of black pudding had the size of a nail. They were also overcooked. I found the croutons too greasy. At least the eggs were fine.
Grilled goats cheese
Warm duck salad
Enlarge photo of the salad. Too tiny bits of meat: see the size of the lentil to compare.
The two starters
For the main courses we both decided on the moules marinière (steamed with white wine, garlic, cream, celery & onion – £10.95). They call it a “Kilo pot” main course and it comes with frites. You can get mussels in 1/2 kilo pot as starter for £5.95. If you do not want to eat mussels, you have Belgian meals like the beef carbonnade (beef braised in sweet Gueuze beer with apples & plums, served with frites – £9.95) that I know by its French name “carbonnade flamande”.
Frites with mayonnaise & moules marinières
The moules were overcooked. It is a pity because mussels are very easy to cook, but it is also very easy to mess them. Some mussels I had were still closed despite being steamed. Not good then. The sauce/soup was good, not too salty as happens sometimes. It was upsetting because it could have been a decent lunch had the moules not been overcooked.
As drinks, we of course chose Belgian beers! To start, it was two Jupiler (£7) and then we had a De Konick blond (£4.25) and a Delirium Tremens (£4.85). The beers were all great, just as well.
A good Jupiler beer!
De Konick blond beer
Delirium Tremens beer with its dedicated glass too
Cost and conclusion: it was £56.13 with the 12.5% “optional” service charge already included to the bill. I prefer to add the service charge myself than having it already added, especially since we were not too happy about the service. The waitress serving us was ok but she was, for example, waiting for me to finish my glass of beer so she could empty the bottle and take it. I prefer to keep the beer in its bottle until I want to drink it. So a little pushy service even if it seemed without the wish to be annoying. We think she just did not realise it. Our experience today was not great, but it could have been better if the mussels were cooked correctly. At least one starter was excellent and the beers saved the lunch.