The Peanut Gallery had his heart set on going to Oktoberfest this year. We didn't go. Fortuitously, however, I made it to Belgo Centraal in Covent Garden to try its Oktoberfest 2010 menu. I'm not sure TPG regards this as sufficient compensation, but it worked out rather well for me.
Every Wednesday night during October, Belgo (at branches Centraal, Noord and Kingsway) is offering a beer and food pairing masterclass - 3 courses, 3 matching beers, big communal tables shared with like minded guzzlers, for £33 per person. They call it the "Wednesday Night Pilgrimage". Belgo's expert Masters of Beer want to educate you about the variety of beers that Belgium has to offer.
|October's all about the beer|
Yes, yes, I know, Oktoberfest is a German thing and Belgo is a Belgian thing. No matter. Beer is the common thread here, people. And beer is something Belgo does well. There's a full cellar of fruit beers, Abbey beers and potent Trappist brews to have you skipping home so merrily you won't care which country you've just been in.
The special menu includes 3 choices for each of the 3 courses. The line up includes a champagne, duck and truffle terrine (with De Koninck Blonde beer), parsnip and ginger soup (with Jupiler Pilsner), moules mariniere (with Belgo Witbier), a Belgian chocolate pudding (with Westmalle Double) and a fine Belgian waffle with chocolate ice-cream and white chocolate sauce (with Mort Subite Gueuze).
Belgo does the staples best - it's a fine place for moules, frites, beer and waffles. The steaming bowl of Moules Portugaises with plump mussels and roast chorizo in a tomato, garlic, olive oil and paprika sauce is a hearty beer soaking feast. I also enjoy the Beef Carbonnade - the beef is braised in Faro beer, nutmeg and brown sugar. It's sweet and hearty, if not as tender as it could be. The hot, crispy frites that come with are, as anticipated, fabulous. All matches beautifully with the Witcap Stimulo beer.
Things go slightly more pear shaped when we go off piste - such as with the mushroom bouchee, a puff pastry case filled with wild mushrooms in an Orval beer and truffle cream sauce, with asparagus spears and buttered onions. It does taste better than it looks.
|Exhibit A: The Mushroom Bouchee|
But you won't go wrong with the moules, frites and a good ol' Belgian waffle. (Poor TPG - Oktoberfest with waffles... this is really going to hurt.)
|The Belgian waffle in all it's glory|
Service is friendly and knowledgeable, the setting hectic, noisy and fun. Unless you don't like hectic, noisy places. (I do.)
During Oktoberfest, Belgo is also offering 2 different buckets of Belgian beer, each comprising a variety of 4 bottles on ice for £15/bucket.
Book ahead during October, requesting the "Wednesday Night Pilgrimages" and don't hold back on the frites.
Belgo Centraal, 50 Earlham Stret, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9LJ (Tel: 020 7813 2233)
Greedy Diva was a guest of Belgo Centraal.