102 Brompton Road, London, SW7 3RD
Telephone: 020 7373 2403
Abbaye is a chain of licensed restaurants that serve a variety of meals throughout the day. Their specialities are mussels and a selection of over 40 different Belgian beers, although after being to Brugge her Royal hag would argue that there are not enough choices.
On arrival, we were slightly impressed by the lovely décor, lots of dark wooden tables, leather couches and a well stocked bar. As we had a reservation for dinner, we didn’t really stop by the bar but were led straight to our table. The restaurant area was again quite impressive – not too brightly lit, with solid wooden tables and a very nice ambience about it. It was a good setting for an intimate dinner with some friends. We were a party of 7 but 3 of us had arrived first and the service was attentive and quick. Our drinks orders were taken quickly and we also decided to get an order of frites before the others came as her Royal Hagness was starving. Her Royal Hagness decided on a nice dark beer, Duvel and I settled on a Floris Ninkeberry – a tasty combination of of mango, apricot, peach and some other tasty fruit. Both went down very well. For those non beer drinkers out there, the Floris Ninkeberry comes highly recommended as it tastes like a fruit punch and its alcohol content is only 3% alcohol.
The frites also came quite promptly (good for us as her royal hagness wanted to scoff it down and get the plates removed before the others came – sneaky!) and was good but unfortunately, it didn’t measure up to the standard of the hand cut chips from The Ship. See, I told you that we were spoiled for life.
So after the rest of the group turned up and perusing the menu, we settled on two kilos of mussels to share for starters – a kilo of moules marinere and a kilo of Thai style one, the name which I can’t remember. The waitress who took our order did quite a good job as she managed to remember everyone’s orders without having to write a single thing down. Initially myself and her royal hagness were doubtful that our orders would be placed successfully as the waitress came back and said that if she forgot or if we missed a meal she would have to put the order through again. That didn’t inspire much confidence in the wait staff but luckily for us (and the waitress!) she managed all right.
Our starters of mussels came out steaming hot and also came with either a serve of frites or bread. We opted for one of each to mop up the juices. When the mussels arrived at our table, it came steaming and we were ready to eat. As we were sitting on a long table, her royal hagness and myself got the pot of mussels marinere at our end and the other end they ended up with the Thai styled mussels. Our pot of mussels were quite delicious, although the flavour was very light.
Unfortunately at the other end of the table, they had to send the mussels back to the kitchen as it wasn’t cooked properly as most of the mussels were still closed shut. Either that, a lot of the mussels were off, both of which were a bad sign. The Thai styled mussels were also very delicately flavoured, perhaps too delicately as her Royal hagness couldn’t tell the difference between the two. I could barely make out which one was more spicier than the other but both were quite nice.
After we’d scoffed down the mussels and mopped up the juices (delicious!), our main meals arrived in good time. Her Royal hagness decided on a lamb shank, which looked very good but was proclaimed average. The meat wasn’t tender enough but still it was a huge portion served with a creamy mash. I had the special of the day – grilled mahi mahi (Hawaiian tuna) in a cream sauce with saffron rice. That was very disappointing as the fish was dry and the sauce was quite bland, accompanied with an even blander serve of saffron rice.
Quite a few folks settled for the beef steak baguette with fries which looked fantastic. Her Royal hag couldn’t resist and had a bite (for research purposes of course!) and said that it was very good. The moral of the story, stick to tried and true Belgian and give the non-belgian looking dishes on the menu a miss. We were also told that the sausages and stoemp, another Belgian specialty of the place, was especially good but unfortunately we didn’t try it.
Abbaye is a very nice restaurant – great setting for intimate dinners for 2 or even a group of friends. Their selections of Belgian beers are certainly large enough for most tastes and well priced – even non beer lovers would be swayed by the fruity choices. However, stick to the mussels, sausage and other well known Belgian fare – the specials of the day were disappointing but hey, I’d definitely go back again.
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