The Food Hall Belfast

There’s a new food hangout in the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast- the Food Hall located in York Street!

As the name suggests, Mount Charles’ latest offering brings together a number of different cafes under one roof, with a large, open seating area so that diners can pick and choose from the range.

I went along to the opening night, thanks to Ohh Social, a Northern Irish 2-4-1 mobile app, and sampled the goodies from each of the four cafes.

So what’s on offer? Well, there’s Juiced– a healthy smoothie bar- and Made- serving the likes of soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps.

If you fancy something sweet, there’s La Creperie serving a brilliant range of crepes and muffins. I went for the Nutella and Strawberry crepe……oh my! Delicious!

Finally, there’s Ripple, to get your yummy ice-cream fix, especially if the weather has been as good as the last few days!

I love the idea of friends all able to get different food/drink items but still sit together (I’d be the friend that would go straight for the buns rather than the healthy smoothie!)

Check out the video and pics below from the opening night.

And if you want to try some of the items, download the Ohh social app where there are offers such as ‘two for one’ wraps, milkshakes and ice-creams!



 

Beef and Bird, Lisburn

Last week we headed to Lisburn to try out a restaurant which has recently opened in the Omniplex.

An area which is quite packed with restaurants and diners already, I was interested to see what would make Beef and Bird stand out from the pack.

I had a quick peek at the menu beforehand so I knew it was an American style eatery, with burgers, Spicy Chicken Louisiana and Philly Cheese steak jumping out at me.

We arrived on a Tuesday night and were shown to a private booth where our waitress introduced herself and told us she would be looking after us for the night.

We decided to go for starters and mains and then see if we had any room left for dessert. 

For starter I was totally intrigued by one dish in particular- Chorizo mac ‘n’ cheese popcorn! I’m a massive fan of both chorizo and mac ‘n’ cheese so I didn’t take a second look. Barry went for Crispy Salt and Chilli Calamari. 

My starter was popcorn-shaped balls of deep fried mac n cheese with small pieces of chorizo inside. It came served on a bed of salad and a homemade dip. They were tasty, warm and cheesy and a good sized portion. Barry also enjoyed his calamari- as a fan of anything which is salt and chilli!

For mains we both decided to try their signature burgers. Eating at a place called Beef and Bird, of course I had to go for the Beef and Bird burger! (It comes as either a 6oz or a 12oz.)

I chose the 6oz and thank goodness I did because it was massive – a burger topped with buttermilk fried chicken goujons and a huge amount of tobacco onions. In fact I didn’t even finish that burger never mind double the beef! The only thing I would say is that I felt the burger needed melted cheese or something similar as there was a lot of meat.

Barry selected the 12oz beef burger which came with tobacco onions, garlic mayo and rocket. Again, it was huge so make sure you come hungry!

In the end we couldn’t eat desserts as it would just be greedy but the options include peanut butter cheesecake, lemon meringue pie and Belgium chocolate brownie. I would have gone for the brownie!

Beef and Bird is a relaxed and casual diner,  which fits in well with the Omniplex for a quick, pre-cinema dinner!


Dinner at Malmaison Hotel Belfast

Last week Barry celebrated his birthday and we booked in to the Malmaison Hotel in Belfast for dinner.

The boutique venue, situated in Victoria Street, is home to a 60-seater brasserie popular with locals as well as tourists staying in the hotel.

When we arrived we were shown to our table by Colm who attended to us the whole night.

The a la carte menu has a good mix of starters, ranging from £3.50 (Italian olives), up to £12.50 for the pan roasted sea scallops. Some of the other dishes included corn-fed chicken terrine (£7.50), classic prawn cocktail (£9) and fillet steak tartare (£10).

To begin Barry selected the tempura of calamari and prawns, while I picked the fougasse with garlic butter (a soft and spongy flat bread), big enough for us to share with just the right amount of juicy garlic butter.

For mains we could have selected from two menus; ‘Grille’ featuring dishes such as Black Agus grain fed Ribeye steak and grilled fresh sea trout, and the ‘Mains’ with dishes which included Ibérico pork cutlet and lobster risotto.

We decided to share two dishes from the Grille menu, as Colm has recommended the Mal Burger (£16.50) and I also really wanted to try the Chickpea, lentil and bean burger (£14).

The Mal Burger is served with sweet cured bacon, Gruyére cheese and burger relish, while the Bean Burger comes with roasted red pepper, spiced yoghurt and pommes frites. What a great choice!

Despite the fact they were a little messy to cut in half, we both really enjoyed getting to taste them both. My favourite was the chickpea, lentil and bean burger!

Finally we were shown the dessert menu and Barry decided to just opt for a coffee. When I saw they had light raspberry cheesecake, I couldn’t resist. The cheesecake came served in a type of cosmopolitan cocktail glass. It felt richer and thicker than the name might suggest (which I actually prefer!) but I managed to finish it all off!

Earlier that evening Colm had asked us why were out and I told him it was Barry’s birthday. To our surprise, along with Barry’s coffee, came a lovely selection of petit four with a “Happy Birthday” message! I thought it was a very thoughtful touch and one which reinforced the excellent service we had received from our waiter all night.

All in all, we had a very enjoyable experience. The venue felt intimate and Colm was very knowledgeable about the food and Malmaison’s own wine.

Thanks to Malmaison for a great night out for the birthday boy!

 

 

Alfredo’s Lisburn

A new Italian restaurant has just opened its doors in Lisburn in the newly transformed Lisburn Square.

The area, which now houses the likes of restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques, is fast becoming a thriving part of the city centre.

One such restaurant is Alfredo’s owned by restaurateur Richard Graham, who previously owned Angelo’s in Lisburn.

Barry and I went along to sample the Italian delights last Tuesday with a menu that promises to “blend traditional with modern without overpowering one or the other.”

The restaurant focuses on homemade pastas and pizzas, with an added focus on fish and shellfish.

When we arrived it was fairly quiet, but it was just after 6pm so I suppose it hadn’t experienced its 7-8pm rush.

The starters range from £4.95 (for the likes of soup and bruschetta) right up to £7.95 for antipasta including chorizo, parma ham, salami, olives and breads.

To begin with I chose the Selection of Home Baked Italian Breads (£5.25), while Barry picked the Dundrum Mussels (£6.95). The breads were a good size (enough for two people) with delicious accompaniments of Tapenade and Virgin Olive Oil. Barry really enjoyed his mussels too and said the tomato and garlic sauce worked well with the shellfish.

For mains we both decided to go for pizzas! (As if I needed more bread!) I selected the POLLO pizza which was topped with roast chicken and basil pesto, costing £10.50. Barry went for the BIANCANEVE served with Parma Ham, chorizo, red onion & rocket, also £10.50.

Again, I liked the size of the portions and the base of the pizzas were thin and crispy. They had a much more authentic Italian taste than some of the pizza chains, so very enjoyable!

I would have liked less tomato sauce as it was too much in parts, but overall it was tasty and we cleared our plates. Alfredo’s has that nice mix of being a modern restaurant with authentic Italian food and it was good to experience what Lisburn Square has to offer!


 

 

Solo Belfast’s Afternoon Tea

I often head to afternoon tea at different places around Belfast but a few weeks ago I was invited to try afternoon tea with a twist- Solo Belfast’s Fusion offering.

I went to Solo Kitchen and Bar when it first opened in Belfast a few months ago and raved about it so I was interested to see how they would do afternoon tea and make it different to the rest!

Barry and I went last Sunday on what was one of the warmest days of the year in Belfast so we asked if we could sit outside. There were two seats free so we were able to enjoy our afternoon tea in the sun! How often do you get to say that here?

The afternoon tea comes  with scones, sandwiches and sweet treats (as normal) but the twist is the savoury nibbles.

You are served up Panko breaded and fried brie cheese wedges, Samosas and BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders in a mini brioche bap! It was quite unusual as part of afternoon tea but a very enjoyable addition!

The selection of sandwiches was Wild Atlantic smoked salmon with dill cream cheese on Guinness Wheaten bread, bruschetta and Coronation Chicken.

Again, the bruschetta and coronation chicken are not the type of sandwiches you would normally get at afternoon tea but they worked very well as part of this fusion sensation.

Finally we enjoyed scones with jam, butter and fresh cream and mini desserts including chocolate cake. The cake was rich and gooey- just how I like it!

We had a great afternoon and loved the mix of flavours and tastes- something I wasn’t expecting. Fusion Afternoon Tea is £18pp and great if you’re looking for something a little bit different to the norm!

Solo’s Afternoon Tea

BBQ Pulled Pork

Sandwich selection

Sweet Treats

Barry enjoying his Fusion Afternoon Tea in the sun

 

 

 

The Morning Star, Belfast

Over the next few weeks Yelp Belfast is running its ‘Around the World in 8 Weeks Series’. The idea is that Yelpers will get the chance to try world cuisine right on our own doorstep. From Italian right through to Hawaiian, we will go on our very own world food tour. So, last night was the first in the series and what a better place to start than Northern Ireland!

The venue for the night was The Morning Star at Pottingers Entry in Belfast. I had never been to the restaurant before, but a few people mentioned to me that the steaks are top class. (I discovered last night that they have their own beef and lamb farm with everything reared on the shores of Lough Neagh.)

So, a four-course taster menu was on the cards. First up was a Two Mushroom Veloute- a creamy mushroom soup served with crostini. The soup, as the name suggests, was like velvet- smooth and rich, without being too overpowering.

Next up was a Whiskey Cured Salmon and Kilkeel Caught Crab. I’ll hold my hands up and say, because I’m not a seafood fan, I didn’t indulge in the second course but there were clean plates all round from the rest of my party at the table. The salmon was cured in Bushmills and served with a crab quenelle and wheaten.

The third course was right up my street- grass fed Dexter and Hilden Irish Stout Pie. This was more like a main portion rather than a taster portion- and I’m glad it was! The crispy/flaky pastry perfectly accompanied the thick pieces of meat and came with creamy spuds, mushy peas and beef gravy.

Finally, there was just about room for dessert- peanut butter cheesecake! Peanut butter is not something I usually eat but there wasn’t a strong peanut flavour and in fact, it ended up being my favourite course of the night!

All in all, the Morning Star did a great job catering for almost 30 of us! The service was slick and there were no complaints from my table, just empty plates. I think the Morning Star summed up ‘Northern Ireland’ week very well, from things like growing its own organic herbs and salads to working with top NI producers and suppliers.

A great night had and I’ll think I’ll go back to try out that steak people are raving about!

Two Mushroom Veloute

Whiskey Cured Salmon and Kilkeel Caught Crab

Grass fed Dexter and Hilden Irish Stout Pie


Peanut butter cheesecake

Secret Supper: Town Square

I’m the type of person who, once they’ve booked a restaurant, has to browse the menu before they go! (I basically know what I’m having before I set foot in the place!)But every so often Yelp Belfast host a Secret Supper where guests don’t know where they’ll be going to (very often) until they arrive a designated meeting point!

Last night I attended my first Secret Supper this year! 20 of us met at Madison’s bar for a quick drink before we made our way to the secret venue….Town Square.

The restaurant is situated on Botanic Avenue (just across the road from the Empire) , formerly Metro restaurant. The new owner relaunched the restaurant as Town Square at the end of last year, with the help of one of the guys behind Belfast coffee house, Established. (So, I expected it to have that cool, laid-back feel about it that Established is known for.)

We arrived at about 6.45pm and were quickly served our first course, Cauliflower soup with truffle oil served with homemade Guinness wheaten. The soup was thick and creamy; the sort of comforting soup you want on a cold, miserable day. And the wheaten…well, I’d go back for that alone! I don’t drink Guinness but that was delicious!

It wasn’t long before our plates were cleared and we were served our second course of the night- Chicken supreme with mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes served with basil mash and rosemary jus. Again, great flavours, particularly the slightly saltiness of the sun-dried tomatoes contrasting with the sweetness of the basil.

Finally, we were treated to a third course- the classic rhubarb and custard! OK, it was rhubarb and ginger crumble served with creme anglaise (a bit posher!) but again, it was that comforting, home-cooked feeling I got from the first two courses. The rhubarb was tart but mixed with the crumble and the creme anglaise made for a nice finish.

I couldn’t fault the service- the staff were attentive, speedy and friendly. Drinks were over within minutes and answered all my (many) questions about the food. The restaurant has that laid-back “coffee culture” feel I was expecting- in fact, they even have a Monday night Cinema Club and Tuesday night Coffee Club! How cool!

The prices are very reasonable (£3.50 for the soup, £6 for the chicken main, £5.50 for the rhubarb crumble.) Once people start to get the vibe of this place, I think it will do well!

Town Square

Cauliflower soup with Guinness wheaten 

Chicken stuffed with mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes

Rhubarb and ginger crumble