Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Belgian Monk, Norwich

I have been to Belgium. It was on a school trip in year 9. We stopped off at a motorway service station on our way to Germany. The closest I've come to sampling Belgian gastronomy in Belgium was spending a few francs on some juicy fruit chewing gum to last me the rest of the trip. So I can't really compare the Belgian Monk in Norwich to the real thing, what I can say though, is it certainly makes me want to go back and visit more than just the country's service stations.

If you like your mussels, then look no further than the Belgian Monk. They sell over quarter of a tonne every week and with over 30 different flavour combinations, you're spoilt for choice. We decided to sample a few different flavours between the two of us and went for the mussel selection option where you get to pick 3 starter portions of mussels. We supplemented this with another starter portion and shared the lot and we certainly had plenty. We went around the world with our flavours, from the 'A la Maharajah' with coriander and orange, to the 'Normandes', with a deliciously creamy apple and bacon sauce. The 'Amerika' were served with clams, crab meat and hot sauce for a spicy fishy kick and the 'Thai' with red chilli, coriander, lime and shitake mushrooms packed a punchy fresh taste. They were all beautifully cooked and full of flavour. I'd called ahead to enquire about what was gluten free and was informed all of the mussels were (although there's one with white beer so always double check) but the chips were off limits due to being cooked in the same fryer as other dishes containing gluten. It's times like this I'm occasionally glad I'm gluten free because we substituted the chips for the Limburg potatoes and Potato Tartiflette both of which were excellent. Heavy with thyme and a garlicky hum, the Limburg potatoes were soft and fluffy and the Tartiflette was delicious, oozing with cheese and bacon. With potatoes as delicious as these, who needs chips?
Mussel selection at the Belgian Monk
Limburg Potatoes
Potato Tartiflette
They serve a huge variety of Belgian beers to wash it down the traditional way but we shared a decent bottle of Sauvignon blanc. At £15 - £20 for the mussels and side it's not cheap but it's brilliantly done and for a little taste of Belgium close to home you really can't go wrong.

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