It’s been the centre of the establishment and the home of revolutionaries. It’s been at the heart of every significant French upheaval. And it’s shapeshifted constantly, hosting a king firing crossbow bolts at fleeing Huguenots, and now, harbouring a formidable collection of Islamic art. In less engaging hands, this documentary could be a long haul. But Hussey is erudite and approachable, his history both rigorously informed and satisfyingly anecdotal.
There's more to this Belgian restaurant and bar than just mussels, even if the pots, platters and bowls of moules are what this long-standing chain is probably best known for. There are more than 52 Belgian beers on offer for starters, and a food menu that ranges from rotisserie-roasted chickens to burgers, steaks, short ribs of beef and crispy bellies of pork. This Covent Garden branch - the group's second of four in London - has been going for nearly 20 years. It's a huge space, with two separate rooms (a dining room and a beer hall) set over 12,000 square feet between Shelton Street and Earlham Street, just down from Seven Dials. Many visit for the mussels, and there's a range of different dishes on offer, from the 'traditionelle' cooked in a white wine, celery, garlic and onion broth to the Thai (lemongrass, chilli, ginger, kaffir lime, coconut and coriander) and the 'Monroe', cooked in Leffe Blonde beer with pancetta and shallots. Keep an eye out for express lunches, too.
Venue says: “Belgo specialises in fresh mussels from the Shetland Islands, which are rope-grown, grit-free and fully sustainable.”