Wednesday, 3 June 2009
Lobsterfest at Belgo, Covent Garden
Lobster! One of my favourite things in the world and also something I never order in this country, for one reason only - the price. In the US and Canada these beauties can be picked up for $7 a pound, and even with the currency not what it used to be, that's still a bargain compared to the 1 1/2lb specimen I saw in Borough the other week on sale for £19. Sorry, I'd rather do without until my next stateside holiday.
But Belgo, the mini chain of Belgian moules-frites restaurants, think they've cracked it - literally. This month, until the end of the month, they are running a "Lobsterfest" menu, consisting of our favourite crustaceans served a modest amount of different ways, all for a VERY modest amount of money. And to get the 'fest off to a good start, they invited a modest number of food bloggers and press people to sample the new menu.
Given that I was on a freebie, cost shouldn't have been a concern at all, but as I said, the sample menu we were shown confirmed the prices were indeed very low. Worryingly low in fact - £5 for a lobster bisque? £8.80 for half a lobster? Without wanting to seem ungrateful I did wonder what corners they must have been cutting to make a profit on serving what is usually a premium seafood. But when the food arrived, my fears were largely assuaged. The bisque was my favourite thing of all - rich and fishy and salty, and though it had probably been bulked out with fish stock was none the worse for it in this price bracket.
The half lobster dishes, including a thermidore, a red Thai curry-spiced one and a salad, were perfectly decent for the price and at were presented well, legs and all. The lobsters, I'm assured, are flown in from Nova Scotia on a regular basis, never frozen and cooked to order from live. I would have liked to have the option of a boiled specimen - all the better for sucking the meat out of the legs - but really, given the scarcity of affordable lobster in London and the fact that Belgo is a smart, buzzy space with very capable service and is so massive you're more or less always guaranteed a table, to grumble about details seems pointless.
So well done Belgo for bravely attempting to bring lovely lobster to the masses, and good luck with your future endeavours. When you feel ready to launch your £5 Iranian Caviar Credit Crunch Menu or a £8 Milk-fed Lozère Lamb Sunday Lunch, give me a call.
Photo courtesy of Food Stories