Another season, another food festival at Belgo restaurants. In June I reviewed the great value Lobster Fest at Belgo Centraal (here), and this month I went back for their "Wednesday Night Pilgrimage" - a beer and food pairing masterclass in celebration of Oktoberfest.
Hosted by a "Master of Beer", every Wednesday at 7pm during the month of October, the sessions are a communal affair, with seats allocated on long tables - a great opportunity to meet other beer and food lovers. "Pilgrimages" cost £33 which include a 3 course menu, with each course paired to specially selected beer from Belgo's cellar of Trappist brews, Abbey and Lambic beers.
This excellent value menu has three choices of starters, main courses and desserts. I was fortunate to be able to sample most of the dishes on the "Pilgrimage" menu during my visit. Starters include "Parsnip and Ginger Soup", paired with Jupiler Pilsner, which I found deliciously spicy and well seasoned, and "Moules Mariniere" - mussels steamed with cream, white wine, garlic, celery and onion and matched with Belgo Witbier which was my favourite.
The "Champagne, Duck and Truffle Terrine", served with onion and plum chutney and paired with De Kloninck Blonde, was also good but in my opinion was the weakest of the three choices.
I adore mussels and unsurprisingly, my favourite main course was the "Moules Portugaises" which was paired with Bruges Zot Blonde. This was a delicious dish of mussels and roast chorizo in a tomato, garlic, olive oil and paprika sauce with new potatoes and basil. I loved the combination of meat and seafood, so characteristic of Portuguese cuisine (Pork and Clams from Alentejo being one of my favourite Portuguese dishes).
The vegetarian choice for main course was "Mushroom Bouchee", a dish made of puff pastry case filled with wild mushrooms in an Orval Beer and truffle cream sauce with asparagus spears and button onions. The combination of pastry, mushroom and cream was heavenly and went well with the pairing of Palm Amber beer. This was my favourite beer of the evening with a lovely toasty malt aroma and hints of bitter orange on the palate.
Desserts include "Poached Pear" in raspberry beer served with lemon sorbet and matched with Floris Apple beer, "Belgium Chocolate Pudding", paired with Westmalle Double (rich and complex with a fresh bitter finish), and "Belgium Waffle" served with chocolate sauce and Mort Subite Gueuze as the beer of choice.
In my opinion, the waffle was the most interesting of the three desserts - it was deliciously light but with an intense vanilla flavour which went well with the chocolate ice cream and the unfiltered lambic beer.
If you would like to book a place in this beer and food pairing masterclass, quote "Wednesday Night Pilgrimage" when booking.
In addition, all Belgo restaurants will be offering two buckets of Belgian beer throughout Oktoberfest, each comprising four bottles served on ice for £15:
Bucket 1: Floris Apple, Mongozo Banana, Floris Krierk (cherry), Floris Mango
Bucket 2: Delirium Nocturnum (9%), Delirium Tremens (9%), Floris Framboise, Floris Wit Blanche.
Cost: £33 for a three course meal including 3 beers matched to the food, this is very good value.
Likes: good value meal, excellent range of Belgian beers, moules frites.
Dislikes: I was not hugely impressed with the dessert choices, and the restaurant can get very noisy with West End drinkers in part because of the low ceilings and arches.
Verdict: I thought this was another excellent value deal by Belgo, and a great way to experiment with "Cuisine a la Biere" (food marinated, cooked or flavoured with beer) and the pairing of beer and food.