New to my neighbourhood (well not quite mine, but certainly D’s), I’d been keen to try Bellanger ever since I heard it would be opening in early 2016. From Corbin & King, the slick team behind big hits the Wolseley, Brasserie Zedel and the Delaunay, I knew it would probably be quite amazing. It’s located where Browns used to be, a cavernous space that was never full on the couple of occasions I went there, but on a Saturday night before V-day, it was packed to the gills.

In fact we had to wait at the bar for about 20 minutes before we could be seated, which gave me time to observe the decor; 1920s style, Toulouse-Lautrec-esque paintings, reassuring, clubby lighting (all brass fixtures and glowing bulbs), and comfortable chairs and banquettes all combining to give the feel of the Eastern European and French brasseries they are so good at. This one is based on the Alsatian bistros of Paris (I say Alsacienne, but I’m allowed, because I’m half French) feel, which is reflected in the menu.

The crowd was quite smarmy (difficult to define, I agree, but you just know) – inevitable around both Islington, and Corbin & King launches – but the staff were lovely. So when we finally sat down at our table we asked them to talk us through the menu as there was so much we wanted to order, we had to make some tricky choices. We went for Gratin de Ravioles du Royans and a Tarte Flambe Alsacienne to start as the waitress explained the former was basically pasta stuffed with cheese and meat and covered with more cheese (and spinach, for health) and baked, and the latter was a thin, fine base covered with – well, more cheese and meat. The pasta was rich and indulgent, while the tarte was delicate and felt almost…well, light would not be the right word, but it was as light as anything was going to get.

bellanger 1

Instagram Matrix of Joy!

 

D went for a sausage combo for main – you can choose two different types if you want to mix and match. He had boudin blanc (spiced pork and veal with sherry, very melt in the mouth) and wild boar, cranberry and venison (robust, meaty, and thankfully not too overpowered by the fruit) with pommes aligot – baked, cheesy potatoes (are you seeing a theme here?!). I went the whole hog for the Wiener Schnitzel Holstein, topped with a fried egg, anchovy and capers, and served with a beurre noisette, which was creamy, nutty, and moreish. It was huge, and I had sauerkraut on the side too, just because.

We even managed to share a dessert – a modish Black Forest cherry gateau, which was delightfully eighties and provided the requisite cream, chocolate and sugar hit. We drank what I’m sure some people (not me) would call a ‘playful Fitou’ and had a pretty radical time all round. A very welcome addition to Islington all in all. Once all the smarmy folk decamp to the next big thing it will be even better.

 

Food: 8/10

Atmos: 6.75/10

Value for Money: 7/10