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Hallie

Belfast

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Cayenne is pretty good. I've been going to Belfast for years (not out of choice, my in-laws live there) and restaurants have never failed to underwhelm me there. Still, things are impoving, albeit slowly.  The Northern Irish can be very particular where their food is concerned. If it doesn't fall into one of the following groups: pig, sugar, butter, chocolate, potato, tea, cow and isn't prepared in one of the following ways: boiled, fried, oven baked beyond recognition, then it's considered inedible. I have literally a book's worth of material on eating experiences I've had in N.I. over a ten year period. My most recent one was lunch at a Wetherspoon's like pub that's just opened up near Antrim. It was supposed to have, as my brother-in-law's girlfriend called it, 'a continental menu'. But when I ordered the spaghetti with tomatoes and olives (the safest thing on the menu) my sister-in-law, a grown woman of 31 made horrible faces at the thought of eating pasta. That was before I was asked by the waiter if I wanted 'a bit of Italian cheese sprinkled on top'. It took a lot of polite smiling to get through that one.

Your Sister in law must have issues then because I grew up there and pasta is not only a very common item in many restaurants, but a staple in many homes for dinner. I also feel that your comments on the N. Irish palate extremely generalized. I know some that definately are as you described, but I know many more who are not. Weatherspoons, is like a TGIF, which many Americans love and consider as their weekly meal out and this is about as adventurous as they will get. Does it mean the rest of the country is so...I think not.

I would give Cayenne a try. Deane's has a nice vibe for lunch. Avoid The Appartment at all costs. That is for food at least.

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The Northern Irish can be very particular where their food is concerned. If it doesn't fall into one of the following groups: pig, sugar, butter, chocolate, potato, tea, cow and isn't prepared in one of the following ways: boiled, fried, oven baked beyond recognition, then it's considered inedible.

Having grown up in NI, but now living in England, I couldn't agree more. When I go back now and then to see family and friends, it's a mission to find anywhere that serves 'real' food that doesn't come with a selection of fifteen different potato styles.

Deanes upstairs is okay, but there's more atmosphere on the moon. Cayenne is indeed very good, as is Roscoff Brasserie. James St South's worth a mention, too.

There's a veritable plethora of true crimes against all things culinary in every town and city you visit there. Has always been the same and I'd hazard a guess it always will be. Shame, but a fact nontheless.

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A smart man once said that "if ewe categorise me, ewe negate me", and I think it's a little disingenous and myopic to taint all Northern Ireland folk with the same lumpen and leathery palate, as has been done elsewhere in this thread.

Whilst much of what Corinna has said is spot on, there are a couple of other bits and pieces I'd like to chip in:

Whilst Molly's Yard is a very good bet, a better bet (alliteration ahoy!) might be Simon McCance's Ginger on Hope Street. Consistently producing fresh, unadulterated dishes with local produce, it's possibly the best reflection of Northern Ireland cuisine (and no, that's not an oxymoron). My default restaurant when friends are visiting.

My recommendation for the Saturday would be pre-drinks at the bar in Zen (Adelaide Street), followed by dinner at Ginger which is only 5 mins away, and post-prandials at the Merchant House, where there is simply a great cocktail bar. And I don't mean "great" within a Northern Ireland context. The drinks are on a par with The Lab (London), The Flatiron Lounge, and anywhere that Dale deGroff or Salvatore Calabrese might associate themselves.

For brunch the next day, Deane's Deli (Bedford Street) is fine, the Apartment (Donegall Square West) is also "ok-ish", but get a table with views of city hall and a Bloody Mary and all will be fine. Roscoff's Cafe (another Rankin venture), is again fine as is Rain City.

Hope this helps.

PS - Stay the hell away from Malmaison. It has nothing in common with any other establishment of the same name.


irony doesn't mean "kinda like iron".

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Have to agree, Malmaison in Belfast is truly shocking. It doesn't deserve to carry the Malmaison branding. Ten Square (which cloned itself around the whole Mal 'look' expecting Mal to never set foot in Belfast) walks all over it.


Edited by KimS (log)

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The Northern Irish can be very particular where their food is concerned. If it doesn't fall into one of the following groups: pig, sugar, butter, chocolate, potato, tea, cow and isn't prepared in one of the following ways: boiled, fried, oven baked beyond recognition, then it's considered inedible.

Having grown up in NI, but now living in England, I couldn't agree more. When I go back now and then to see family and friends, it's a mission to find anywhere that serves 'real' food that doesn't come with a selection of fifteen different potato styles.

Deanes upstairs is okay, but there's more atmosphere on the moon. Cayenne is indeed very good, as is Roscoff Brasserie. James St South's worth a mention, too.

There's a veritable plethora of true crimes against all things culinary in every town and city you visit there. Has always been the same and I'd hazard a guess it always will be. Shame, but a fact nontheless.

I understand what you are saying, but what I was trying to say, in my muddled way, is that just because the pickins are slim, restaurant wise, it is unfair to assume we all have the palates of dry wall. I grew up in a family who are are great cooks. I am not just talking about meat and potato dinners. We travelled as a family and eat out in many different kinds of restaurants. I then left Northern Ireland to go University, like many do. So many of us are exposed to foods from all over. So while pig, pototoes and chocolate may be found in our fridges at any given time, that is not to say that is all you will find.

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can't find a website for ginger? would that be better than zen or cayenne? I like the look of Deanes brasserie for brunch.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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I was in Belfast about a month ago. James Street South was pretty good. Might've been the best meal out I had in NI. Took a few pictures, if you want to see what the food is like (might be a bit blurry though)

http://blog.lemonpi.net/?p=323

Also was at Deanes Deli

http://blog.lemonpi.net/?p=299

Have been to Alden's, Restaurant Michael Deane and Cayenne on previous visits. Nothing very memorable, but of the three Alden's would be the one I would go back to.

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I spent a few days in Belfast in August and stayed at the Merchant, not expensive for what it was if you haven't found a hotel yet, and the room package I booked came with one dinner for two and breakfast for two every morning. Both were a la carte and you could order as much as you wanted - we ordered plenty of extra courses - and there'd be no check unless you ordered alcohol. And the bar at the Merchant make the best old school cocktails, like Pegu Club in NYC. It's an opulent place without feeling stuffy but if it's not your scene, Deane's Deli is a relaxed, open room with incredible fresh food and you can buy prepared food there for the plane or train home too.


Edited by adamru (log)

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On my one and only visit to Bill Wolsey's Merchant, I found it somewhat lacking in the 'attention to detail' factor and the workmanship (particularily in the ladies' loos) was shoddy.

Hey, I'm married to a builder... :wink:

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The Northern Irish can be very particular where their food is concerned. If it doesn't fall into one of the following groups: pig, sugar, butter, chocolate, potato, tea, cow and isn't prepared in one of the following ways: boiled, fried, oven baked beyond recognition, then it's considered inedible.

Having grown up in NI, but now living in England, I couldn't agree more. When I go back now and then to see family and friends, it's a mission to find anywhere that serves 'real' food that doesn't come with a selection of fifteen different potato styles.

Deanes upstairs is okay, but there's more atmosphere on the moon. Cayenne is indeed very good, as is Roscoff Brasserie. James St South's worth a mention, too.

There's a veritable plethora of true crimes against all things culinary in every town and city you visit there. Has always been the same and I'd hazard a guess it always will be. Shame, but a fact nontheless.

Jenny, I know for a fact that not everyone in N.I. has the same tastes - my husband grew up there, as did a number of very good friends of mine. They all live in England now and frequently discuss how different the attitude to food is in the Southeast of England when compared to N.I. I have also lived in Yorkshire and there are plenty of pig, chocolate, potato, butter and sugar eaters there too. I am by no means tarring everyone with the same brush - merely speaking from my experiences and observations - some of which I have found to be quite shocking. The majority of those I have met in N.I. are far from adventureous where their tastes are concerned. I also have found it incredibly difficult to eat healthily while there; white bread and fried food is inescapable. Good quality fish is hard to find, except in better restaurants, and everything comes smothered in mayo or cream. Garlic is the food of the devil, and I've found that a surprisingly large amount of adults will not touch vegetables. I'm not saying that there aren't other places like this in the UK - and around the world for that matter, but I have found an especially high concentration of people with a closed-minded attitude towards food in Northern Ireland.

The restaurant in Ten Square - Opium, is truly awful, by the way. But glad to hear that there are good places opening up on a more regular basis.

I understand what you are saying, but what I was trying to say, in my muddled way, is that just because the pickins are slim, restaurant wise, it is unfair to assume we all have the palates of dry wall. I grew up in a family who are are great cooks. I am not just talking about meat and potato dinners. We travelled as a family and eat out in many different kinds of restaurants. I then left Northern Ireland to go University, like many do. So many of us are exposed to foods from all over. So while pig, pototoes and chocolate may be found in our fridges at any given time, that is not to say that is all you will find.

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but I have found an especially high concentration of people with a closed-minded attitude towards food in Northern Ireland.

Never a truer word spoken. :huh:

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Cayenne is pretty good. I've been going to Belfast for years (not out of choice, my in-laws live there) and restaurants have never failed to underwhelm me there. Still, things are impoving, albeit slowly.  The Northern Irish can be very particular where their food is concerned. If it doesn't fall into one of the following groups: pig, sugar, butter, chocolate, potato, tea, cow and isn't prepared in one of the following ways: boiled, fried, oven baked beyond recognition, then it's considered inedible. I have literally a book's worth of material on eating experiences I've had in N.I. over a ten year period. My most recent one was lunch at a Wetherspoon's like pub that's just opened up near Antrim. It was supposed to have, as my brother-in-law's girlfriend called it, 'a continental menu'. But when I ordered the spaghetti with tomatoes and olives (the safest thing on the menu) my sister-in-law, a grown woman of 31 made horrible faces at the thought of eating pasta. That was before I was asked by the waiter if I wanted 'a bit of Italian cheese sprinkled on top'. It took a lot of polite smiling to get through that one.

Mmmm, yeah not holding out much hope for a gourmet weekend but still! have you tried Michael Deanes the 1 michelin star?

We've never been able to get into Deane's. It's always booked up.

One positive development - Ian Rankin has opened a little place in Belfast airport which actually does really nice soups/sandwiches, etc. I do think Rankin should be knighted for services to the people of Northern Ireland.

My God are you saying the world famous Scottish crime writer is responsible for improving the palates of the Northern Irish, no wonder they are a little funny about what they eat. :shock:

I remember dining at the short lived michelin starred 'The Oriel' in Gilford and being served massive side orders of potatoes and veg. I asked about this and was informed that the 'locals' were not happy with the portion sizes and most people lived by the rule that if you belly is not filled at the end of the meal (irregardless of taste etc) it is not a good meal.

I know its a little distance away from Belfast, by I have been hearing good reports about this place.

manor park


Edited by RDB (log)

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Cayenne is pretty good. I've been going to Belfast for years (not out of choice, my in-laws live there) and restaurants have never failed to underwhelm me there. Still, things are impoving, albeit slowly.  The Northern Irish can be very particular where their food is concerned. If it doesn't fall into one of the following groups: pig, sugar, butter, chocolate, potato, tea, cow and isn't prepared in one of the following ways: boiled, fried, oven baked beyond recognition, then it's considered inedible. I have literally a book's worth of material on eating experiences I've had in N.I. over a ten year period. My most recent one was lunch at a Wetherspoon's like pub that's just opened up near Antrim. It was supposed to have, as my brother-in-law's girlfriend called it, 'a continental menu'. But when I ordered the spaghetti with tomatoes and olives (the safest thing on the menu) my sister-in-law, a grown woman of 31 made horrible faces at the thought of eating pasta. That was before I was asked by the waiter if I wanted 'a bit of Italian cheese sprinkled on top'. It took a lot of polite smiling to get through that one.

Mmmm, yeah not holding out much hope for a gourmet weekend but still! have you tried Michael Deanes the 1 michelin star?

We've never been able to get into Deane's. It's always booked up.

One positive development - Ian Rankin has opened a little place in Belfast airport which actually does really nice soups/sandwiches, etc. I do think Rankin should be knighted for services to the people of Northern Ireland.

My God are you saying the world famous Scottish crime writer is responsible for improving the palates of the Northern Irish, no wonder they are a little funny about what they eat. :shock:

I remember dining at the short lived michelin starred 'The Oriel' in Guildford and being served massive side orders of potatoes and veg. I asked about this and was informed that the 'locals' were not happy with the portion sizes and most people lived by the rule that if you belly is not filled at the end of the meal (irregardless of taste etc) it is not a good meal.

I know its a little distance away from Belfast, by I have been hearing good reports about this place.

manor park

Ohmygod. I did write Ian Rankin, didn't I?!! I meant Paul.

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I've not been to the great city of Belfast for a couple of years now, but Cayenne used to be a pretty safe bet and offered a decent atmosphere. I wasn't so convinced by Beatrice Kennedy (a little nearer to the University) though, despite local recommendations.

It's a required stop on the tourist trail, but I think the Crown Liquor Saloon is still a magnificent place for drinking - especially if you can bag a booth (although I'm sure locals will say it's spoiled by all the foreign punters squeezing in...)


Edited by Kropotkin (log)

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I'm off to Belfast in December adn we are booked into Cayenne and James Street South.

I had a fantastic meal in Cayenne a couple of years ago and then we ate in Rain City, which was ok, but very good wiht small children, even ones who throw up on the table!

Also even had a fantastic breakfast in a small cafe on the way to the Giants Causeway, wish I could remember the name now.

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Thanks for all the advice, have settled on Mollys yard for lunch on arrival then Michael Deanes in the evening and Rain City for a suitably hungover brunch the next day. Will let you know how it all goes :wink:


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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ok so am back from belfast - suitably knackered but what fun!

Mollys yard was a lovely start to our stay, small menu only about 10 dishes in total but we were spoiled for choice, i settled on a seafood chowder, mussels, salmon, smoked haddock etc and some very tasty potato wedges, good price winelist and as it was a brewery a 1/2 of Belfast blonde lager which was also very good. Very good cheese plate, all irish, cashiel blue , a porter cheese, gubbeen and an irish brie with what tasted like homemade cheese biscuits and chutney. All in all Yum - service was well meaning but so laid back it was almost horizontal but i was on holiday so hey!

Michael deanes restaurant (1 michelin star) was absolutely delicious - cannot recommend it highly enough lovely ambience, charming staff and the food.... We had scallops with buerre noisette and black pudding, Studffed loin of rabbit with sage risotto and seabass/halibut with cockles, mussels etc. Assiette of desserts was perfect way to finish about 10 different things and all delicious and not too filling, good, inexpensive winelist too - If you are looking for a special meal check it out. The A la carte menu was £42 for 3 courses, coffees £3 Plenty of wines under £30 too, i would go back in a shot and as he has the deli and brasserie too you should try to make it to one of them.

Rain City for brunch filled up with kiddies at about 12.30 but until then laid back, relaxed perfect hangover food, eegs florentine were cooked to perfection, the full fry up looked great, pancakes, museli etc All in all worth the visit.

Cocktails at malmaison worth a trip too!


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Visiting Belfast in August. Anything new there? Fancy dining? According to Michelin guide, there's only one starred restaurant, worth going?

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That'll be Deanes http://www.michaeldeane.co.uk/deanes.asp which has closed the upstairs fine dining restaurant that held the star and gone for a more casual style. I think he's a really good cook and the revamped restaurants would be worth a visit I imagine (haven't been for a good few years now).

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It's definitely worth going to Deane's. As Andy mentioned, it is now much more casual and is downstairs where Deane's Brasserie used to be. There are no amuse bouche or freebie bits any more (except for olives and bread), but the prices are very reasonable and the food is extremely good. The carpaccio of venison is well worth a try if it is on, excellent black sole too. Michael Deane is there nearly all the time, so it's also very consistent.

Other places worth considering are Mourne Seafood Bar for very fresh fish in a casual atmosphere (be sure to reserve, it's very busy) and James Street South for a more formal style-conscious dinner.

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Visiting Belfast in August.  Anything new there?  Fancy dining?  According to Michelin guide, there's only one starred restaurant, worth going?

Just visited Deanes few weeks ago. It was just a casual dinner, nothing impressive. Good meal and not expensive all.

Here are the photos FYI:

Fine Dining Explorer / Rest of UK


Fine Dining Explorer

www.finediningexplorer.com

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Visiting Belfast in August.  Anything new there?  Fancy dining?  According to Michelin guide, there's only one starred restaurant, worth going?

Just visited Deanes few weeks ago. It was just a casual dinner, nothing impressive. Good meal and not expensive all.

Here are the photos FYI:

Fine Dining Explorer / Rest of UK

I was there last week for the first time and go along with your description. Quite relaxed, but with definitely some Michelin 'style' to the service. The restaurant was busy on a damp Monday. Apologies for the poor mobile phone photos :wink:

I had the same pork belly starter, but with a different presentation.

gallery_27797_6082_591325.jpg

Main course was hay cooked beef with green beans, bone marrow, triple cooked chips and Bearnaise (off the menu this week). Eating off a piece of slate felt a little bit like the Great British Menu :laugh:

gallery_27797_6082_623784.jpg

Last course was cheese which didn't have a lot of Irish representation, but was well described and presented all the same.

The wine list is a bit expensive so, as I was alone, I opted for the wine suggestions (at £20) and the the wines presented were well chosen.

Notably, there are options close at hand. Deanes Deli, James Street South and Roscoff Brasserie are within two or three minutes walk - and Cayenne not much further. I can't comment on the current cooking at those places though - I did go to JSS not long after it opened and was very impressed.

The following evening I went to Deanes at Queens, which was ok. I've also been to Molly's Yard and Beatrice Kennedy in the same area (close to the University) as part of a group and both were ok as well.

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That'll be Deanes http://www.michaeldeane.co.uk/deanes.asp which has closed the upstairs fine dining restaurant that held the star and gone for a more casual style. I think he's a really good cook and the revamped restaurants would be worth a visit I imagine (haven't been for a good few years now).

Untrue.

I was at Deane's 3 weeks ago, and it's still as fine dining as ever.

Upstairs is a private dining space, but the downstairs restaurant is in tact; not certainly no casual.

it's also very good. Classical with a few modern flourishes.


A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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NB. I don't follow why a few of you are calling it casual. it is the howard street venue right?

nor is it overly cheap, especially in Belfast.

mains in the 17 - 25 region for example.

perhaps it was more formal before, but it remains far from casual.


A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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