The austere area that is Holborn has never been known for its atmosphere, but the recently renovated Belgo Holborn is about to change that perception. Unbelievably this branch has been around for over 20 years on the former Lloyds banking site and it did make sense to give the restaurant a refurbished look after all those years.
Having spent a quarter of a million pounds, you do notice lots of fantastic new design features. There is the stunning wall display with prints of all their top-selling beers like Leffe, Duvel, Topvar and La Trappe. This is a feature that has been present at all their other branches apart from this one until now. They have an unrivalled selection of Belgian beers: from Trappist beers, which are strongly brewed craft beers made under the supervision of Trappist monks to blonde beers which are crisp, dry, minimal bitterness and slightly sweet. Our favourite being the fruity and smooth Leffe beer which is the ideal companion to a bowl of mussels. There are 51 other options to choose from.
In case you are still unaware of Belgos Belgian monasterial origins, you just need to admire the magnificent back wall painting of a cathedral stained glass window. Who knew the life of a monk would be so desirable? Creating beautiful craft beers and sampling fresh bowls of mussels.
A visit to Belgos wouldn’t be complete without ordering mussels. You can either order mega mussel pots or as platters. We opted for the platter option as we had tried the pots before on numerous occasions at their other branches. Their mussels are from the Shetland Islands. The meat was quite small in size, but combined with garlic and herb butter, sautéed leeks and herb crumb, it made for an explosive, rich tasting dish. This is one occasion when size doesn’t matter, it’s all about the fresh taste of the sea from the mussels.
One thing you will learn from a visit to Belgos is that garlic butter goes supremely well with seafood, as the case with their main course of 1/2 a lobster. Once again, it was rather small in size; you do wish they would state the size of the lobster as some restaurants do. However, combined with chips and homemade colesaw, it wasn’t going to be a meal that required a diversion to the kebab shop before heading home. More importantly, the texture of the lobster meat was firm and fresh and you just knew it was the kind of dish they would sell plenty daily hence ensuring a fresh supply every morning.
In recent times, they have made more of a push to highlight their other famous offerings such as rotisserie chicken and the fact they sell cocktails as well. Try visiting on a Friday night and their lively music combined with Belgian beer will definitely put you in the mood for the weekend. It’s great to see a restaurant that I visited many years ago in Chalk Farm still flourishing strongly and maintaining their high standards.