Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Brilliant Mussels from Smelly Belgo
Formerly the Bierodrome, Belgo is a Belgian joint on Clapham High Street that promises the best mussels and Belgian beer in London.
Cowie and I muscled in (couldn’t resist even though it barely works) before a trip to watch The Reader at the Picture House. We were initially seated between a large group, out on someone’s birthday lash up and a window that I am still convinced was made of ice. Feeling very uncomfortable, our request to be removed from this unpleasant sandwich was accepted.
Cowie opted for just a main course of moules mariniere whilst I decided to go a bit off-piste and ordered green Thai mussels as a starter and a duck breast with plum compote for my main course.
The green Thai mussels were exceptionally good. Juicy mussels and pungent, spicey, aromatic sauce made this dish worth the trip on its own. Not a single mussel was unopened and sauce was devoid of splintered shards of shell.
Cowie’s bowl of moules marinierewas deliciously garlicy and equally generous on the mussel front. My duck on the other hand was not just under-seasoned, but seemed unseasoned. A cardinal sin if ever one existed. After several minutes attacking my dish with the salt and pepper mill it was improved beyond belief. But no amount of seasoning is ever going to get past the fact that the duck was still suffering from rigour mortis and the plum sauce just tasted of sauce not plum which takes some doing. O. And another thing. Please can I have crispy skin with my duck? Chips were sinfully good which made me wish I’d had my Belgian brain engaged and ordered a steak or a carbonade of beef.
Now for the next bit you’ll have to hold your nose and give me some advice about protocol…
With my fork stabbing a morsel of duck and my head bowed forward and jaw opening in readiness for a mouthful of fodder I was suddenly overwhelmed by the uric stench of BO. Wondering whether this was my own unique scent I placed my fork down and subtly sniffed my pit. Nope. I had showered before venturing out and due to lack of my own anti-perspirant, had liberally applied some of Cowies.
I set myself up for anther hefty mouthful and was again almost bowled over by a cavalry charge of BO. Cowie’s nose twitched too and then her eyes raised and met mine. We turned on our sniffing sonar and searched out the source of the smell. It didn’t take long before one of the waiters speedily walked past carrying a tray of sparkling drinks. Our eyes met again and we burst out laughing. The poor guy absolutely reeked. It was as if he’d gone to the gym and worked out in a bin bag like Gazza used to and then used his shirt to mop up the sweat that had dripped of him before then mistaking a bottle of fox piss for a can of deodorant. It was little short of sickening. A lot is made of aroma marketing these days – it’s impossible to walk past a Sainsbury’s store without having your nostrils filled with the scent of fake bread. All Belgo have to do is either issue nose plugs to all their diners or ask their waiter to have a wash.
Belgo’s is a great place for mussels. They delivered on their promise by serving us some of the best mussels we’ve both had. But, if they are going to serve things other than tasty shellfish, then they have to do them better than this. We left a generous tip for the waiter which we can only hope he has spent on some men’s hygiene products.
The image is from Belgo's brilliant weird website where you can explore a range of fantastic Flemmish recipes. Next time I'm going to have the Carbonade Flamande.