Monday, June 25, 2007

Belgo Centraal - A Place for Beer & Monks

Belgo Centraal is the place to go for Belgian specialties of mussels, great fries and a vast array of dark, blond and fruity Belgian beers. Cross the metal bridge and look at the bustling and steaming kitchen below. Then descend into the vast underground lair of Belgo with waiters dressed in traditional monk habbits.

There are two sections of the restaurant. One is a classy and intimate dining room where reservations are recommended or the wait can be rather long. For the spur of the moment and no reservations needed, just ask for seating in the noisy beer hall with its communal benches and tables. It’s the same menu and specials no matter which part of the restaurant you are dining. The restaurant as a whole is a pretty trendy spot for a hearty meal.

For an economical dining experience, try Belgo’s “beat the clock” meal specials from 5pm-6:30pm. The time you order is the price you pay. The options for this meal are limited so I opted for an a la carte selection. During my visit the building where the restaurant was located was under some construction and so the restaurant was obscured by scaffolding and panels of plastic.

For my dinner, I opted for the Soupe de Crabe et Moules (a rich crab, mussel & red chili soup flavored with ginger, coconut & Thai basil) and the Carbonnnade Flamande (beef braised in sweet Gueuze beer with apples & plums, served with frites). To wash it all down, I ordered one of the Belgian beers on tap -- a St. Feullien Blonde…very light and smooth. A filling meal which left no room for dessert.

It should be noted that most London restaurants allow smoking with the exception of cigars and pipes. But from July 1st, the restaurant will be non-smoking in accordance with new legislation.

Entrées cost between GBP10-14. Belgo Centraal is open Mon-Sat 12noon-11:30pm; Sun 12noon-10:30pm. Note that a "suggested" gratuity is added to your bill. Nearest tube stop: Covent Garden. The restaurant is located at 50 Earlham Street. Look for Seven Dials where seven streets intersect in a very tight roundabout. One of the streets is Earlham. More info at


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