"a Belgian beer café, just like the sign told me"Review Rating: Reviewed by T.A.O
The Dovetail, it’s a Belgian beer café don’t you know? Educated by the sign outside and spared the embarrassment of assuming this was some kind of pub or restaurant even, I was in, and save for the slightly pretentious sign first impressions are good.
Arranged in blocks, the mixed furniture does its best to act as decoration and so benefit the place with touches of panache. Form supports function and the religious overtone of the décor is interesting in itself. Church pews, high Abbey arches and hymn boards draw on the links between the beers and some of their roots in the monasteries of Belgium.
It’s not such undiscovered country around St. John’s Square anymore and with the Modern Pantry plus the behemoth Zetter Hotel on the corner, the suits are getting sharper.
Looking around, it is all very City, but if you can avoid the Thursday and Friday nights then you might just avoid the pumped up money men (and women) who love to get loud, apparently.
This evening it’s quiet and it’s the beer I’m interested in and with over 100 of them there’s nowhere better in London to hunt for the exotic. Satan Gold, Grimbergen Blonde and Rochefort 8 are just some picks to be savoured. There are a lot more to be explored though and there are beer tastings that can be booked for the chance to really be schooled. The food’s good too and classics include the Carbonnade, a rich beef stew and the Waterzooi Van Vis, a tasty Antwerp fish dish. Plus of course, there’s moules mariniere. Prices are high but bearing in mind the rarity of the imports, it’s worth the extra cash.
Toward the end, looking around from a lone corner it all becomes clear to me. Yes, this is a Belgian beer café, just like the sign told me. Ale with the strength of wine, barely audible crooners on the stereo and a hush-hush approach to fun, it’s almost as continental as you’re going to find in London.
T.A.O reviewed Dovetail on Wed 04 May 2011