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The latest restaurant from Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, the uber-restaurateurs who count The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel among their ranks, takes its name from Monsieur Bellanger (seller of Delaunay-Belville automobiles) and, more importantly, makes a welcome addition to chain-heavy Upper Street. A trademark interior of polished wood, oil paintings, and gold finishes gives the spacious dining room a bright bistro feel, all designed by Shayne Brady of Brady Williams.
During our pre-opening lunch, we ate from a shortened version of a menu which celebrates the brasseurs (brewers) of Alsace. Expect a selection of French classics (similar to those which have made its siblings Brasserie Zédel and Colbert famous), alongside more Eastern European-leaning dishes: tangy salad râpées was brought up to date with the addition of celeriac and beetroot alongside the typical grated carrot, while beetroot-cured salmon with horseradish was perfect in its simplicity. Other options included a hearty pâté de campagne with fig jam, soupe à la bière (yes, that’s beer soup), or the 1980s favourite, a crayfish, prawn and avocado cocktail. For the main event, grilled chicken paillard was light and will no doubt prove popular among lunchtime diners, while cod à la Grenobloise (lemon, capers and parsley) was surprisingly rich, made more so by a side of creamy spinach. Sharing seems to be encouraged: coq au Reisling and baeckeoffe (beef, pork and lamb braised in Gewürztraminer wine) are offered for two or four people, while there’s a dedicated saucisse selection inviting diners to choose from varieties including Toulouse pork and wild boar with cranberry and venison.
For pudding, expect French classics such as tarte au pommes, Crêpe Suzette à la mode and vanilla crème brûlée. We’d been tipped off to order the tarte flambée, however, which arrives paper-thin on a wooden board, smeared with sticky apple and scattered chards of caramelised nut brittle. We’re told that when Bellanger is fully open, these will be available with savoury toppings such as goats’ cheese or bacon: basically the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine at the bar. We have every confidence that classy Bellanger will gain a strong reputation in Islington.
Britain’s long relationship with France has been a fraught and tangled one, to say the least. Thankfully that hasn’t stopped a surge of new French restaurants opening in London over the past couple of years. Bellanger, from the people behind Brasserie Zedel and The Delaunay, focusses on cuisine from Alsace-Lorraine. This region of France has alternated between French and German control many times over its history, resulting in food that’s a unique combination of Gallic and Teutonic.Given the sprawling restaurant empire of Bellanger’s parent company, it would’ve been so easy for Bellanger to be a timid shadow...
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Steve has built his career in the Hospitality industry since leaving school and brings with him a wealth of experience that has already shone through since joining us as part of Bellanger's opening team. Previously working for businesses such as Smith and Wollensky, The Blues Kitchen and ME Hotel London, Steve is a mature, highly competent and adaptable head chef and we are excited about the future for the Bellanger kitchen and team with him at the helm.
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