Belgo has opened in Weekday Cross, boasting a selection of 56 beers (including 4 that are exclusive to Nottingham!) moules, frites and belgian waffles. It’s the first branch to open outside of London, and people have been out in force to welcome them.
I was invited along to a ‘meet the brewer’ evening and was seated upstairs in the wonderful Zot bar where we were greeted with a bucket of 6 different beers. There are blonde ones, fruity ones, dark ones, and the Delirium will apparently make you see pink elephants after a few too many (of course, you are encouraged to drink responsibly). Our waiter for the evening, Csaba, recommended that we start with a 9% (!) beer, the Straffe Hendrik – the brewer reliably informed us it means strong, or brave. The Halve Mann Brewery of Bruges has provided the Straffe Hendrik bottled and also on draught, as well as the Brugse Zot Blonde and Brugse Zot Dubbel, a dark beer.
It was definitely strong, but aside from the fruit beers that we tried later it was actually my favourite one, with citrus notes to it. We had a selection of starters to choose from, with cheese and beer croquettes which were pleasingly melty, alongside paté and garlic prawns which Duncan devoured happily.
I’m not personally a fan of seafood but Duncan reliably informed me that the thai mussels were exceptional, with a delicate flavour with a chilli kick to follow up, there is a range of flavours to choose from and they’re rope grown in the Shetlands.
Csaba opened a Mongoza coconut beer for me, served in a coconut shell. At 3.5% it was nowhere near as strong as the first beer but it was my favourite of the night. It’s not one for the beer purists, as coconut and beer really shouldn’t work but it does, and it goes down very easily! Many of the beers have a unique glass and a story behind them.
Continuing with the unusual flavour combinations was a banana beer (with 20% banana juice, apparently!) which was also in my top 3, and other flavours include strawberry, raspberry, cherry, mango and honey. There was a lot of beer…
Duncan is definitely the beer aficionado of the two of us, and thoroughly enjoyed the Westmalle Trappist beer which is made in small batches by monks, and also the Kwak, which is another that comes in its own special glass that wouldn’t go amiss in a chemistry lab. To break up the beer we were treated to wonderfully crisp frites, and a taster of rib eye steak with béarnaise sauce and asparagus. The steak was medium rare and butter soft, and the combination of flavours means I’ll definitely order a full one next time!
If the beers aren’t enough, there’s a range of cocktails and schnapps to choose from too. A taster board of schnapps were brought out and we clinked glasses with the brewer. I had one which tasted like apple schnapps, another was a chocolate flavour similar to Baileys, and the others were fruit flavoured but all beautiful. To finish off and keep my sweet tooth happy there was a sampler of a belgian waffle, with chocolate sauce, blueberry compote and chantilly cream.
Fly FM will be doing a giveaway of dinner for four people next week, check out @fly_fm on twitter and you can listen in at http://www.flyfm.co.uk. Other choices on the menu include rotisserie chicken, lobster, mussels, and the intriguingly named ‘stoemp mash’ – creamy mashed potato with carrot, savoy cabbage and leeks. We’ll definitely be returning for more.
The dinner and beers were provided for free as part of a press night for review.