T&C tests: brunch at Bellanger
On a street as packed with restaurants as Islington’s Upper Street, it takes a brave team to try their hand at introducing a new venue. Fortunately, with Corbin & King – the brains behind the likes of The Wolseley and Brasserie Zédel – at the helm, Bellanger is in good hands.
Overlooking Islington Green and approaching the point at which Highbury & Islington officially becomes Angel, Bellanger is an all-day restaurant inspired by the original Alsatian brasseries of Paris. When I first visited for dinner, I found it a relaxed affair, serving hearty dishes such as Toulouse sausages served on beds of puy lentils, chicken Schnitzel, and coq au Riesling. This time, though, we have come for the brunch, which is, refreshingly in this part of London, not a bottomless one.
The restaurant itself is divided into three adjoining rooms: a space at the front looking out onto the terrace and green; a high-stooled bar with space for an evening pianist; and the Upper Room, which is where we position ourselves. Blue banquettes sit next to ornate mirrors on glossy wood-panelled walls, creating a warm, welcoming ambience for even those of us who have joined dressed in gym gear, straight after a morning class. It’s worth pointing out that Bellanger is also dog-friendly (see the restaurant’s Instagram, with its dedicated #HoundsofBellanger hashtag) – so while the interiors are plush, it certainly doesn’t need to be a save-it-for-best venue.
The brunch options, as with all of Bellanger’s menus, are extensive to say the least: tartes flambées, escalopes, croques both madame et monsieur, and even a salad section, which was ignored by me but lapped up by my more health-conscious dining partner. The avocado and superfood salad (large) was a washbowl-sized dish of quinoa, avocado and other similarly virtuous foods, while the Bellanger burger with melted gruyère was somewhat more in line with the otherwise indulgent fare on offer. Afterwards, both the tarte au citron and classic millefeuille left us with empty plates one could hang on walls and both of us pleased we’d dressed for the occasion… in Lycra.
We stayed off the wine list this time, but the offering ranges from a house white for £22.50 to a £295 bottle of Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2000.
Those looking to sample some of the more traditional dishes may prefer to come for dinner at Bellanger, but if a lengthy, lazy few hours eating courses designed to satisfy at comfortable tables with space enough for the weekend papers, brunch is exactly what you’re looking for. Though perhaps it might be an idea to walk some of the way home.
Brunch for two costs from £40, including mains, desserts and coffees, at 9 Islington Green, London N1. To book, call 020 7226 2555 or visit bellanger.co.uk.
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