We'd been going to the Lowlander on Drury Lane for many years and have always enjoyed our visits there. It serves a mixture of bottled and draught beers are drawn from Belgium and the Netherlands and offer a choice of hearty food with food.
It's a venue where you can't really stand at the bar but sit at the tables - not normally my cup of tea but when you're savouring the higher percentage brews, it's probably wisest.
Not surprisingly the place was very quiet when we arrived more or less on opening time - most other folk would be Xmas shopping just up the road in Covent Garden.
Normally I start off with an Ij Pilzen or an Ij Wit as a quick opener whilst I peruse the beer menu. However the blank look on the waiter's face suggested things had changed. No Ij beers at all!
I had a quick look at the draught beers and opted for the Brigand IPA, a 6.5% beer, which was OK but nothing outstanding - some hoppy overtones but not as hoppy as I like it.
The persual of the beer menu suggested that the management have rationalised the list somewhat and whilst the lion's share of the beers on offer have always been Belgian, there were now 52 Belgian beers compared to a paltry 8 Dutch brews!
Now as any visitor to the Arendsnest in Amsterdam will tell you, there are a lot of Dutch breweries these days and some are excellent - De Molen, De Prael, Jopen and Scheldebrouwerij come to mind. See Ron Pattinson's excellent site for more information.
Luckily they had bottles of Strandgaper (from Schedebrouwerij) in stock and I decided to stay on this for the remainder of the day. I was going to try the excellent Hercule Stout but they'd run out.
The food was as good as ever - pan-European hearty fare - I tend to opt for their steak as they do it nice and bloody.
If you're in the Covent Garden area the Lowlander is well worth a visit - I just wish they'd be a bit more adventurous in their choice of Dutch beers - at least get Ij brews back on the menu - but I suspect I'm in a minority here as most will opt for the well-known Belgian beers.