Eating at Bellanger, the latest Corbin & King all day brasserie has been on my foodie list since the day it opened its doors.. The duo behind the Wolseley, Delaunay and Brasserie Zedel opened it’s doors on Islington Green earlier this year.
It was awarded the Bib Gourmand this week, a new addition to the accolades handed out by Michelin. They’re given to less formal restaurants offering high-quality food with value for money.
My time had finally come – with the kids packed off to the grandparents, I wasted no time and tapped away on the laptop for a reservation.
The restaurant pays homage to the golden era of all-day cafes with a menu inspired by the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. On entry you’re greeted with dark wood panelled walls, embroidered white tablecloths, smoky mirrors, golden lighting and a mixture of large booths and closely packed tables – all very pleasing on the eye.
The bar looks like its been taken straight out of the Orient Express. Even with all its old school glitz, Bellanger isn’t a place filled with airs and graces. It’s more relaxed, like a place where you’d go and natter the day or night away.
On first sight the menu doesn’t look very veggie friendly and you’d be right, until they whip out a special vegetarian menu.
Have you every had an artichoke? I’d been meaning to for a while and opportunity knocked, with the whole globe artichoke, vinaigrette (£9.75), which came along with its own lemon infused finger bowl. Even though the word ‘whole’ was used in the description, I hadn’t anticipated how large it would actually be!
It’s all an illusion- as we all know you only actually get to eat 20% of the vegetable. Nevertheless the lure of the succulent inner core and sharpness of the vinaigrette had me chewing the ends dry – for a while. Apparently the whole routine, arranging heaps of savaged artichoke petals until you get to that core requires an element of sophistication and I suppose focus. Well I’ve ticked that box now.
Mr S went more mainstream and began with a Severn and rye smoked salmon (£9.25) accompanied with capers, lemon and bread.
I couldn’t resist ordering the tarte flambé with champignons et fine herbes (£7), a speciality of the Alsace. The wafer thin wood fire cooked ‘pizza’ was deliciously crisp, smeared with crème fraîche and laden with juicy mushrooms and sweet soft onions. It was oh so moreish and so unhealthily good.
The plaice ‘bonne femme’ came with mushrooms and a noilly prat velouté (£16.95). It did no better in the health stakes, but scored douze points on flavour.
We also indulged in a side of pommes aligot (£4.75). Mainly because without potato in my meal in some shape or form I feel like I haven’t eaten. And boy, did we make a good choice. It may look like an ordinary bowl of mash to you, but think again. Without doubt the best cheesy, garlicky mash in North London! Two words: Comfort. Food.
The rest of the menu is a mixture of schnitzel, sausgages, escalopes and steaks. They also offer a set menu between the hours of 11:30am – 6:30pm – 2 courses for £15 or 3 at £18.
Admittedly I was tempted by the sweet versions of the tarte flambes – the butter roasted apple with Calvados in particular. My very full belly was however thinking the opposite. We ended our rich fest with a Gâteau Forêt-Noire (£5). I managed a spoon as I was fit to burst (ok, maybe it was two or three).
There is no shortage of places to eat in Islington, but Bellanger has definitely muscled in on the scene with ease. An appealing menu, attentive staff and an atmosphere that encourages you to while your time away. And all on my doorstep – C’est si bon!
Do you have a favourite local? Let me know in the comments box below.
Bellanger | 9 Islington Green | London | N1www.bellanger.co.uk
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