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Review: Lunch at Belgo

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At Stylist, we've definitely in the hastily-munching-a-dry-sandwich-at-our-desks camp, so when we heard about the Belgo express lunch, we though it was time to step away from the computer screen and reclaim our lunchbreak.

You've may have already been to Belgo, the Belgian restaurant chain - it's been around for 10 years and there are a few locations dotted over London. If you haven't, the express lunch is a good excuse to visit.

The restaurant we went to, Belgo Centraal, was bustling, but not too hectic on a Wednesday, and the decor has a chic, European design-y feel, but still cosy enough to settle down to some comfort-food, Belgian style.

Aside from an impressive Chocolate industry and some of the best chips we've ever eaten (the trick is to slather them in mayo or curry sauce), Belgian cuisine is a hearty, slightly stodgy affair - think huge plates of sausages and creamy mash, delicious casseroles, and steamy bowls of fresh mussels with chips. But the Express Lunch Menu is a concise, 'best-of' list featuring slightly lighter dishes that can be eaten in the hour.

On to the Moules. Belgo makes a big deal of the Moules on their menu - you can have them with about seven different sauces, and they are fresh, delivered daily from Shetland mussel farms, rather than the frozen varieties most restaurants serve.

We opted for the traditional bowl on the lunch menu - white wine, celery, garlic and onion, served with a steaming plate of frites. They were plump, juicy and there were no dodgy unopened shells lurking in the bottom. The chips were a bit fatter than you'd get in say, France, but that's the beauty of the classic Belgian chip - it's a little fatter, but crispy, and big enough to soak up the sauce. If you're not a fan of shellfish (and there is something a little odd about Mussels) we also sampled the Rotisserie chicken - a huge, plump portion of meat in a smoky chilli sauce, served with salad.

When it arrived, we moaned about the feeble leaves decorating the plate, and soon felt shamed when a rather large bowl of salad appeared seconds later. Always remember that Belgian food is a mix of French skill, and American-sized portions - so you won't go hungry.

Our far less greedy dining companion went for the lighter menu option - the warm smoked salmon and leek tartlet. Delicious apparently, but not enough - and more like a starter. There's no photo as by that point we were in a Moules food coma, and the lovely manager Gomes had given us an aperitif of melon liqeur (not normally recommended at 1:30pm).

The only downside of eating on our lunchbreak? Our constant clock-watching (although the food came promptly) meant we had to say no to the epic-sounding Zoet Plank Sharing dessert with Irish cream, chocolate pots, caramel waffle biscuits, and two shots of fruit schnapps, and to the huge fridge full of intriguingly-flavoured Belgian beer (a pint of Banana Bread, anyone?). But we did arrive at the office feeling satisfied, a little sleepy and far more cosmopolitan than the sandwich-munchers at their desks.

belgo-restaurants.co.uk

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Seafood stew with leeks and aïoli

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