Vicky Mayer heads to Bellanger in Islington, which celebrates its 2nd birthday this December, to see why Londoners love this traditional French brasserie so much
For once in my life I was early so before I headed into Bellanger on Islington Green, I stopped off next door at Waterstones, intent on buying something to read while I waited for my date.
With Tina Brown’s tales of her time on Vanity Fair under my arm, I was glad of my early arrival. However, I needn’t have worried about the book – the fantastic staff at Bellanger are there to make solo diners and early arrivees at home with a selection of reading material to suit every taste.
Such attention to detail is typical of Corbin & King’s grown up eateries around town that include The Wolseley and Brasserie Zédel, and while the cool crowd may turn their nose up at their traditional menus, clever Londoners know that service and first-class fare are pretty much guaranteed here.
Unlike other trying-too-hard establishments with their sharing plates, clean eating menus and no booking policies, Bellanger, who celebrates its 2nd birthday this December, is the sort of grown-up restaurant you’d love at the end of your street.
Taking its inspiration from the classic Franco-German dining style of the Alsace brasseries, Bellanger is reminiscent of Paris’s best-loved brasseries, all art nouveau, with inviting banquettes offering customers the chance to visit for a quick espresso, a drink at the bar or a blow-out three course supper.
Taking its inspiration from the classic Franco-German dining style of the Alsace brasseries, Bellanger is reminiscent of Paris’s best-loved brasseries
I’d been warned that the portions here were generous, so we started with half a dozen fresh and tangy rock oysters and a faultless salad with endive, Roquefort and walnut.
The wine list boasts good choices from both France and Germany so if you’re feeling adventurous, try out a Riesling. The staff here are super knowledgeable about good wine choices, so do ask for advice.
The mains here are the real stars of the show – generous portions of classic brasserie fare that are perfect for a cold winter’s evening – my coq au riesling came steaming in its own casserole dish and teamed with super creamy pommes de terre, every bite was delicious.
My date’s Toulouse sausages with braised puy lentils was an equally generous portion and totally moreish. To add to the vintage vibe, the dessert menu offers classics like black forest gateau and, our favourite, the knickerbocker glory sundae.
Tina Brown may have access to Manhattan’s finest restaurants but I bet, deep down, she’d love to dine at Bellanger.
9 Islington Green N1 2XH; 020 7226 2555; bellanger.co.uk