OK, so I’ve eaten here before and was not impressed but hey everybody deserves a second chance right? I’m glad, because the food was pretty darn good, great value for money, and the service was more than adequate.
My grandmother always used to say to me as a child, “you get what you pay for”, and at £10.95 for a three course (check out 5pm for Brel deals) dinner I wasn’t expecting much……but I was wrong! I must confess I harbour a soft spot for Brel, being a bit of a fan of Belgian beer, I always like coming here, the food downstairs is always really good, but its been a bit hit and miss when I’ve dined upstairs. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I returned, but I always knew my old friend Gueuze beer would be there for me if all else failed.
I started with the Mussel pot (mariniere) served with toasted bread, L opted for the Chicken liver pate served with a spiced chutney and dressed salad. Mussels were great (cream had split but didn’t affect the flavour), L thought the pate was a little under-seasoned, and would have benefited from being served with a crusty bread or toast (rather than the bloomer type soft bread).
Rather than wine I usually partake in a couple of choice Belgian beers when dining at Brel, and last night was no exception. Whilst L stuck to the Pinot Grigio, I opted for Gueuze beer:
Gueuze (or Geuze) is a type of lambic, a Belgian beer. It is made by blending young (1-year-old) and old (2–3-year-old) lambics into a new beer, which is then bottled for a second fermentation. Because the young lambic is not fully fermented, it contains fermentable sugars, which allow the second fermentation to occur. Lambic that undergoes a second fermentation in the presence of sour cherries before bottling results is kriek, a beer closely related to Geuze.
Since gueuze is made by blending lambics, it tastes different from traditional ale and lager style beers. Because aged hops are used to produce these lambics, the beer has little to none of the traditional hop flavor and aroma that can be found in most other styles of beer. Furthermore, the wild yeasts that are specific to lambic-style beers give gueuze a dry, cidery, musty, sour, acetic acid taste. Many describe the taste as sour and “barnyard-like.” In modern times, some brewers have added sugar to their gueuzes to sweeten them and make the beer more appealing to a wider audience. Because of its carbonation, gueuze is sometimes called “Brussels Champagne.”
On to the mains and I had the Merguez sausage in spiced jus avec (when in Rome) frittes. L went for the burger avec frittes. The Merguez spiced sauce was very hot, which was fine as I enjoy really spicy food, but I can imagine a lot of people would find this dish a little too spicy, but to reiterate I thought it was great. L had no complaints with the burger, in fact thought she thought it was “excellent”.
To help out with the spice, I thought I would go a bit fruity with the next Gueuze, so ordered my favourite Kriek: Cantillon Gueuze. This little beauty is a lambic beer infused with macerated sour Morello cherries, a real thirst quencher.
Gambrinus is a legendary king of Flanders, and an unofficial patron saint of beer or beer brewing. Gambrinus is variously depicted as a European king, as an English knight of the Middle Ages, or (less commonly) as a plump old man. Gambrinus’ birthday is purported to be April 11.
The origin of the character is most widely believed to be John the Fearless (1371–1419), who some also believe to be the inventor of hopped malt beer. However, other sources report that one of the cup-bearers in the court of Charlemagne (742–814) was also called Gambrinus. In 1543, the German poetBurkart Waldis wrote of Gambrinus, explaining that Gambrinus learned the art of brewing from Isis, the ancient Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility.
For dessert we both predictably went for the Belgian waffles doused in butterscotch sauce and summer berries – Wow this was amazing! Should have been served with Ice cream as per menu, instead of the whipped cream it arrived with, but I had to overlook this as it tasted so good.
OK to summarise……The food was great for what it was, its not haute cuisine, its 3 courses for £10.95, which to my mind is great value (considering I have paid over that for Belgian waffles on their own) – I particularly liked the Merguez sausage, but you need to like it spicy. The floor was maybe a little understaffed with only 2 waitresses serving 20 covers, although I should add they were coping admirably. The musicbox was playing old standards from the likes of Frank, Nina, Shirley, Louis and Ella, the windows were open offering a nice breeze, all was well on Wednesday evening in Ashton Lane. Well done Upstairs – the food’s definitely getting better.
Upstairs at Brel
Phone: 0141 342 4966