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Taps: 5 / Bottles: 56
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
50 Earlham Street
, WC2H 9LJ
United Kingdom (England)
phone: +44 20 7813 2233
(Place added by: freed)
Ratings & Reviews
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| Reviews: 14
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
The overall rating for Belgo Centraal seems a bit low from my experience, but I haven't read the review yet so not sure what my other BAs were looking at. I found it to be a wonderful experience and highlight of our trip to London.
Of course, we show up for dinner on a Saturday, which, as tourists, we should have come earlier in the trip, but I got the flu on flight over, so it wasn't until the end of the trip that I was up to multiple beers and a big meal. The line looked long and the bar was packed, but the wait was about half the 45 min they told us it would be. BC has a sorta industrial chic look, lots of shiny metal and exposed heating ducts upstairs. The whole place, including the one room bathroom with opposing stalls and single hand washing area w/ friendly attendant, felt a bit like a night club, but not everyone was young and underdressed.
At the bar, I ordered a Brugs Tarwebier, a very good wit, and my wife and a Huyghe Fruli on tap. Both excellent, well served and handled. Bartender was effusively apologetic for having to change the keg for my beer, but it was worth it. We were just thinking about what to drink next when our names were called for table.
So, you're told to wander downstairs, and immediately you see the open kitchen and monk dressed waiters and waitresses. Many of the tables are like giant picnic tables with groups set beside each other, though I noticed that a bit of space was left between groups who weren't together. My wife and I sat at a table for two around the outside of the main seating section, which we preferred. Still tight and close, like sitting at most Cheesecake Factories, but there's a much better sense of privacy in spite of being close. In the states I generally hate being that close because it's impossible to sit w/o hearing conversations and generally invading each other's space, but it wasn't a problem here.
We ordered the Bouchee aux Champignons Sauvage, a puff pastry filled with wild mushrooms and button onions that was covered in an Orval and truffle cream sauce. Very spectacular. A salad was the only other vegetarian option, but when the one option I have is so awesome, who cares. Better than I expected really, since the place specializes in mussels, which a third to half of the tables had at some point. Service was very good in spite of being full, except my Orval was a bit slow in coming to the table so that I could drink it with the meal.
For dessert, I had a bottle of Hoegarden Grand Cru, which was a good choice as well. My wife left for the hotel since I was heading to a brewpub across the street, Bunker Beirhall, so I turned to people watch while finishing my beer, and it was a wide variety of young and old, lost track of how many languages, quiet dates and raucous laughter all rolled into one. Very fun place, well worth the visit. I was informed later by some Brits while sitting at Market Porter that the 12% suggested tip on the Belgo bill is truly optional, and need not be paid. Not that it bothered me much to pay it since it was a fine experience. So, five beers and a shared entree was about 30 pounds, so it is a bit pricey. We ate at the local grocery store Marks and Spencer most of the trip, so no worries to splurge for this one.
01-14-2007 14:52:10 |
More by FightingEntropy
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
Had an early dinner here on our first night in London on our recent England vacation. I had wanted to go to Belgium on the trip, but that didn't work out, so this was a compromise!
The atmosphere is actually kind of strange. The brightly painted red and black outside is offset by an almost bunker-like walk downstairs, to a cellar area of arched ceilings (a la storage rooms) with lots of stainless steel, long picnic/cafeteria-like tables, and Belgian beer posters. When you arrive at the bottom of the stairs (after being "radioed in" from above), you first see the open-air kitchen, and they walk you past the bar to your table (assuming you are eating at the bar). The "restaurant" part is in the other direction. This atmosphere is really hard to describe, and I'm not doing it justice-- just something to experience, I guess.
Quality of the tap beer was quite nice, and their bottles seemed well stored.
Service was very good. It was a little tough getting servers to notice you, but not nearly as bad as in Belgium! Seriously, our waiter could tell I knew a little something about beer, and he made some very good suggestions on pairing the beer with my food choices. First rate.
Selection-- it was the second best Belgian selection I had seen outside of Belgium up that point in time. A big beer list comes in a separate menu. Other people I have talked to have said the selection is rather pedestrian for Belgian beers, and perhaps it is, but it is far superior to what I see at home. About 10 or so Belgian taps, including St Fullien on tap, Mort Subite geueze and kriek, and 40 or 50 bottled beers, including some hard-to-find-in-the-states beers (Rodenbach Grand Cru, several trappist beers, faro [which I didn't get to try]), etc. So overall, it's pretty good!
Food was quite good- my girlfriend had Belgian garlic mussels with frites, and I had a baked mussel and cheese and ham special that was fabulous. Don't be surprised (like we were) on their "before 6:00 PM special", where you pay the time you ordered (if you order at 5:26, you pay 5 Pounds 26 pence)-- this is on a limited menu only, and you need to ask. But I didn't really care- I ordered what I wanted to eat.
Location is excellent, a few blocks from Covent Garden in a very active part of town.
Overall, I'm really glad I went and had this experience, and I may go back some day, but to be honest, it's not probably something I would want to do over and over again.
10-11-2005 20:46:44 |
More by Dukeofearl
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Lively, fun concept in Covent Garden. Cellar converted into a restaurant. Decorated with kind of flashy urban-euro touches like big copper panels on the walls and beer signs. Furniture looks like Ikea but seems to fit with the concept. Cushioned benches along the walls and large group tables in the middle of the dining rooms. There was no "bar" for just sitting and drinking beer; at least I never saw one.
Waiters are dressed up like Trappist monks. Lots of eager servers with pretty good knowledge of Belgian beers but no free samples or chit-chat. I counted 8 taps (3 of which served Belgian brews) and 70 bottle choices. Nearly all of the bottles were Belgian covering a wide range of beers. A few of the taps were "macro" like Stella and Carlsberg but they also had Jupiler and Affligem on tap.
Food was excellent. I had the beef carbonnade and pommes-frites which were fresh and well made.
Prices were about what you would expect for London. Two beers and a meal cost me about $30.
This would be a great place to party with friends.
10-26-2011 13:30:09 |
More by joedon
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5
A friend insisted I visit this place while in London. I convinced my family to give it a try, and we weren't sorry. The neighborhood it resides in offers fairly trendy shops and food, and is predominantly red brick and cobblestone. Belgo itself has a fairly small entrance and a surprisingly industrial entryway. There was a significant wait, but an upstairs bar offers a great selection of Belgian beers in bottles and on tap. So while waiting and enjoying my first Kwak, these two buff blondes in all black clothing come out with a meter long piece of lumber that has been fashioned to transport schnapps. They walk by you and you can poach as many different flavors as you'd like, then return the glass to the schnapps sled.
The waiting gang-way also sits over the kitchen, which was very active and the food looked great from above. When we were finally taken to be seated, we entered a massive oval brick tunnel filled with picnic tables. The seating was very simple, and you generally dined right with another group of people. The menu offered a fairly big selection of muscles, and that's about all I remember. Regardless, the muscles were terrific, and were a great pairing with the beer.
The beer itself was delightful. I'd not seen the selection of Belgian beers anywhere before. There were easily 15 beers on tap and a cage near the back brimming with over 75 types of bottled beers. We stuck with the draught and were very pleased.
All in all it was a unique experience. Quite a bit trendier than I'm used too, especially after nearly a month in traditional pubs and roadside inns. But it was generally better than the pubs we found in Westminster, and it was a nice change.
05-31-2004 18:28:28 |
More by freed
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
A truely impressive selection of Belgian beers both on tap and in bottles. Beer list comes in a binder and does not disappoint, you'll find stuff here you won't find anywhere else in London. Atmosphere as one person put it is kinda industrial, with the waiting area bar (limited selection there) on a platform beneath the entryway but above the kitchen (everything is in the basement). Be prepared to sit at long picnic type tables, potentially next to people you don't know. This is neat if you have cool people next to you. I sat next to a Japanese couple who were into beer and quite fun to talk to. Menu is full of wholesome Belgian favorites that don't disappoint. Beers are mostly served in proper branded glassware, which is impressive considering the selection. Definitely worth a visit when in London, but it can get crowded on weekends.
08-09-2005 19:17:51 |
More by ChrisBowers
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
Found this restaurant while waiting to go to a play at the Donmar Warehouse theatre across the street. In the basement of a building of shops, it's warm and cozy, although it can feel little too warm in the summer.
Food was very good, although not the best ever. We tried some baked chicken, fries, and mussels, and we weren't disappointed with any of them.
Beer selection is fantastic. Wide range of beers available on tap, particularly Beglian beers (go figure). We each tried one beer on recommendation from the wait staff, which paired up nicely with the food.
Service was good; again, nothing exceptional.
Overall, it's worth the visit for the underground ambience and beer offerings, but it was a bit too expensive to merit multiple visits.
05-18-2006 20:29:25 |
More by ndekke39
United Kingdom (Scotland)
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
I had a meeting in London and made a beeline for this place before catching my flight home. In truth I wanted to check out a couple of beers and then leave however you CANNOT go here just for a beer. The food prices also looked a bit too expensive but they have a mini "beat the clock menu" between 5 and 6.30 where you pay the time that you are served. This is definitely recommended as good value and the food was decent enough. When I arrived it was not at all busy (just after 5.00) but it filled up very quickly, with many tourists...
Service was friendly enough and having the waiting staff wearing the monk's habits certainly added to the atmosphere though this will probably appear rather corny after a few visits.
Beer selection was pretty good though I'd rather have sampled a few more beers without the need to eat. With the "beat the clock" there was a Cristal beer thrown in that was pleasant enough. I also tried a bottled De Konninck triple which was tasty.
Overall a good experience and I'd come back and eat (and drink) here. I feel it would benefit from having a bar-only area for discerning beer lovers.
10-13-2007 11:28:11 |
More by Stephen63
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
The atmosphere is just unreal. A ride down the old-fashioned caged elevator ends in a wine-cellar setting and a host in full monk regalia. The walk past dozens, nay scores, of Chimay bottles decorating the bar is enough to set the mood & set my tastebuds on edge. The quality is, again, unsurpassed. Belgian specialties designed around the beers make the best choices, and the pomme frites make US french fries hide their soggy, uninspired heads in shame. The service is, yet again, the best you could hope for. Two separate trips have had the waiter buy us a round of schnapps and their suggestions for food/beer pairings have never led me astray. The selection makes me want to move to London. Seriously. Now. I have never seen this selection outside of Belgium and not many places inside of it, either. The food (broken record here) is phenomenal. Try the flamande carbonnade and your love of the dish will even make you forgive my Texican spelling. The prices are VERY reasonable given the cost to stock this holy grail of Belgian beer outside of Belgium. Seriously. If you like beer at all, and if you're ever in London, do NOT miss this place!
02-15-2007 04:07:40 |
More by roblowther
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$
What a place!
Went, strictly from reading about this place from THIS forum.
I sorta knew what to expect, but, as you may have figured from reading all the reviews----it is hard to imagine what this place is
like until you finish the twisting steps, down into the electrified dungeon...lol.
The food gets a bad rap in restaurant guides but, I'm telling you,,,on my 1st trip there, the food was very good. Wife and kid had desert there too and they said it was the BEST dessert they ever had...(It is a Belgian thing to have the best desserts, with the Belgian chocolate--the worlds best chocolate.).
The atmosphere is odd and lively and nicely different than any place I've ever been. Is dark but brightliy lit at the same time...haha...hope that's not too abstract. Is noisy with people from all countries from Europe. The staff is a knowledgable mix
of European's. Our monk, that waited on us was from Sweden. I took a pic with her.
The beer selection is vast, though I was a bit disappointed they only had 5 beers on draft, and 2 were Grimbergen's, which I seem to have been running into everywhere over there in Europe.
AND, also disappointed they didn't have the 2nd beer I asked for. Was a Hoegaarden Cru, (I believe), Was an 8% Hoegaarden.
Had a St Feuillion from the tap...was GREAT! Then a LaChouffe from the bottle selection. THAT is my FAV Belgian Beer.
Nothing but good things to say about this joint.
PLUS----it is right in the Theater district.
An interesting place to start off theater night.
08-04-2007 17:47:34 |
More by Dennycurr
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
Stopped in while on vacation in London over the Thanksgiving holiday. We found this place in several of our guide books and it was recommended.
We actually had walked by the place on Friday night and it was packed. We choose to hit it during the week. The place offers two types of seating, reserved and walk in, all of which is in the basement of the building. Kind of like a bunker. We did the "walk in" and sat in the beer hall section and were actually seated at a two top table on the side. The middle section is picnic-type tables.
While I waited for my wife to arrive from work, I sat in the little bar area near the back door. (The restaurant has a front (off of Earlham) and back door (off of Shelton).) There were 3 beers on tap. A lager, a wit, and a strawberry beer. All Belgian. The bottle selection was much bigger, but I did not see the beer menu until we were seated.
Beer menu seemed pretty good. I am not up on Belgian beers but there were several pages to the menu. I selected a Leffe Brune and the wife went with a framboos (don't remember the brewery). Served in the appropriate glassware as expected.
We had the mussels of course. Food came out very quickly and was very good and the mussels were fresh. We opted for no dessert or coffee.
Service was OK. As noted by another reviewer, flagging down your server is tricky. Servers were dressed in frocks. Kinda weird.
11-29-2005 17:43:37 |
More by wlhagan3
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Belgo Centraal in London, United Kingdom (England)
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