Leon de Bruxelles. Belgian Beer & Mussels in London’s Theatreland.
Leon de Bruxelles is very easy to find. It juts out in Cambridge Circus, at the end of Shaftesbury Avenue, directly opposite The Palace Theatre.
First opened in Brussels in 1893, then in Paris in 1989, Northern France in 1995, and now London in 2012, it seats 220 diners, and specialises in mussels, chips and Belgian beers.
My feet were killing me after walking around London for several hours, and spotting its prominent green and white striped blinds, I gratefully crossed the road and went inside.
I was very thirsty, so I ordered a cherry beer as it sounded interesting, and I’d never heard of it before. It really was cherry coloured, fruity and refreshing!
My friend Andy turned up soon afterwards, and wondered what on earth I was drinking. He settled for a diet coke.
We ordered frogs’ legs with an apple mayonnaise as a starter. It was delicious. We could have done with a few more, but frogs’ legs are expensive.
I had mussels with Roquefort, in a sauce of white wine & crème fraîche with shallots & Roquefort cheese, and Andy had Provencale mussels, which was mussels in a tomato sauce with white wine, crème fraîche, garlic, basil & black olives.
Although Andy’s teetotal, he enjoys alcohol in food. Of course, the alcohol isn’t alcoholic any more when it’s been cooked.
This was accompanied by as many chips as we wanted.
As I’m allergic to chemicals and additives, I often can’t eat pre-packed or frozen chips because they’re treated with chemicals to stop them going black. And quite honestly, they usually don’t taste very nice either!
The waiter rushed off to check for me, and he said that they were frozen fresh without any additives. So I could enjoy chips with my mussels!
Gianni Antonio Albanese, the Assistant Restaurant Manager, told me that the mussels are sourced from various European countries, mainly Holland.
We decided to have a sweet course after a short rest. Andy had a crème brulee. He said it was wonderfully crunchy on the top and creamy inside.
I ordered the Crepes Suzette, but although the sauce was good, sadly I thought it was a bit rubbery.
Obviously in a restaurant as busy as Leon de Bruxelles, there has to be a lot of prepping to keep up with the demand, but I’d have been happy to wait for fresh pancakes, or they shouldn’t be on the menu.
All in all, the staff were absolutely faultless, friendly and attentive.
The seats are comfortable, and the décor is interesting, with Wee Boy statues in prominent places, of course! (The statues there are bigger than the original one!)
Leon de Bruxelles is a convenient landmark to pop in when I’m in that area, as I often am, but I wouldn’t make a special journey to eat there. I’d call in for a beer though. The selection is great. And of course as it’s in the heart of theatre-land and the service is quick, it’s perfect for a pre- or post-theatre meal and a drink.