FOOD & DRINK/ Eating Out: Where to find a famous Belgian

THERE were not one but two celebs eating supper on tables near mine at Belgo last week. I got two celebs, a full belly, a couple of glasses of delicious ale, an incredibly small bill and loadsalarfs with the fancy-dress waiters - all in the space of one happy evening. What an amazing place.

If only everywhere could be like Belgo. If only Belgo could be everywhere. If only it wasn't in Camden I'd probably be there every night. But if you want to eat there at peak hours, book a table a few days in advance. The place has only been open 18 months, so it's still highly fashionable.

So. The celebs. He was called Doyle, I think. He was the detective with curly hair and high cheekbones in The Professionals. Doyle was the second most long-standing sex god of my late childhood. And there he was. Doyle. On the same side of the restaurant as I was, eating and laughing and joking and smoking just like me. Two human beings, both equal in the eyes of God, both in the same restaurant at the same time. And one of them was me and one of them was Doyle from The Professionals, bless him. I went to the toilet three times so I could get a better look. But he's changed (I'm sure it was him). He needs to put on a bit of weight, spend a few days in the sun, grow his hair. One of his companions wore a cravat and occasionally stood in the middle of the restaurant to show off. Actors. They should stay on the telly.

The other celebrity was sitting at the table next to me. 'I'm fascinated,' said her male companion in an upper-class voice, 'by the handshake game. Do you know it?' She didn't. It turned out that his great aunt, who had died in 1973 aged more than 100, had had a doctor who, when he was a boy, had watched Napoleon or Nelson or someone getting on to a boat. 'Gosh,' she said, 'just three generations.'

I don't know for sure that it was her, but she looked like the woman who reads the news on ITN when Trevor McDonald doesn't - someone I'd interviewed just a couple of months before. I hadn't been ferocious to her in the article, but neither had I been particularly kind. So I was a little embarrassed. We exchanged glances at one point and then both looked quickly away. But perhaps that was because she was polite or not interested.

Perhaps it was because I'd been staring. Whatever. If she wasn't Julia Somerville then she was definitely someone else, if you get my drift. One of that ilk. And she was definitely a celebrity.

Which brings us back to the restaurant and the second point. The full belly. Belgo serves Belgian food and fresh, warm Polish bread. At my table we both opted for set menus because they looked so cheap. Mine offered two courses and one beer for just pounds 10. The salade liegeoise was fairy-tale delicious; my mouth is watering as I remember it now. The new potatoes were totally fresh, perfectly sweet. The french beans melted, I do not exaggerate, in the mouth.

I was offered the choice of moules mariniere or moules provencale for the main course. They were fresh and plentiful. The soup (mariniere) was perfect. They were the best moules I've had in years and I eat them at least once a fortnight. For pounds 8.95 my friend ate tender and elegant steak with various vegetables and crispy chips. (The moules also came with chips. I don't know why, but I don't think they were necessary). He got no first course and he had to buy his beer separately, but he did get an excellent Belgian waffle with a hot chocolate sauce for pud. Everything we ate was simple, unpretentious, fresh and delicious. Even the beer was a treat. Belgo offers a choice of 32 imported Belgian ales, none of which, at around pounds 2.50 a glass, comes cheap. However, I recommend the dark brown, smooth, rich, sweet and strong Leffe beer. We drank several of them - and still our bill, including service and eight espressos, came to just pounds 33. When you consider the class of food and the cost of similarly fashionable restaurants, this is quite a bargain, I think.

Waiters dressed in monks' habits offered unintrusive and smiling service. They were a refreshingly ordinary-looking bunch. Talking to the staff at happening people's restaurants can sometimes be a bit of an ordeal. But there were no conceited would-be male models here; nobody looking bored and sickened as they scribbled down our order. Belgo is staffed by a handful of rotund and slightly distracted middle-aged men who mind their own business very efficiently and let you mind yours in turn.

The restaurant is in a basement. We had to drive past it several times before noticing that in place of the normal front window stands a large and uninviting slab of concrete engraved with the name 'Belgo'. Find the entrance then, eventually. Walk to the end of a purposefully sparse, wooden-floored, concrete- walled corridor and look down over the banister to get a bird's eye view of the space age kitchen. In front of the kitchen lies the restaurant; concrete stripes along the walls are decorated with neatly imprinted and nonsensical messages: 'SLAPJAW LAZEYBONES BASTARDSOUL TOMTURDY SOURCHOP GAG.'

Belgo is a little too brightly lit for my liking, and the room is noisy (for dinner time). So be patient; it takes a minute or two to adjust to the delightful spirit of the place.-

BELGO

72 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AN. Tel: 071-267 0718. Open every day.

Lunch and dinner from pounds 10, depending on alcohol consumption. Set lunch menus at pounds 5 and pounds 10 Monday-Saturday. Partial menu change every week or so. Credit cards accepted

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel

film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower