Another gem on the Lisburn Road, Uel’s offers a variety of fare at reasonable prices. Not licenced, but they will let you bring your own wine against a corkage charge. It being mid afternoon we were not in for wine anyway.
The Club Sandwich
Josephine had the club sandwich which would have fed a family of four. Char grilled chicken, local ham, bacon and sun blush tomatoes, plus nachos and green salad on the side. The waitress asked if we would like anything left to be wrapped to take home!
I had wild mushrooms with basil pesto and grated parmesan which left me with nothing to complain about.
Not a bad little bistro and we did take half the club sandwich home!
As I was in town for a meeting thought I’d better check up and see that Deanes was keeping up it’s standards so I met up with Josephine and we headed for Howard Street. The board outside showed the special of the day to be whole sole, so that solved the choice problem; and they had not run out of Pinot Grigio. The sole came on the bone with a light lemon butter and was accompanied by green beans and new potatoes. Josephine is not a great lover of beans of any variety so that was my gain. We shared (2/3 to me) a crème brûlée which came in a sweet dish almost the size of a soup plate. Enough said, the standard and service are as good, if not better, than they were in April.
This restaurant was recommended to us by the hotel and, having checked the location out, was a little concerned as to it’s pedigree. There is a large moroccan restaurant opposite and a very swish looking french restaurant a couple of doors down. As they all close down for the afternnon and do not re-open until 7 p.m. there was no way of getting an indication of the interiors. Hugo has a small yellow door with hand painted notices in the windows announcing 2 courses from €15. The sign over the door says cuisine créative et provençale. Nothing ventured, nothing gained we arrived at around 7.30 and found it to be a fairly small room with around a dozen wooden tables with chairs to match.
There was one waitress and the menu came to the table on a blackboard. The wine list was on another blackboard on the wall and wines were offered in a choice of 5 sizes from whole bottles to small glasses. No prizes for guessing the size of our order.
The food! What can I say; creative; definately: provençal; never having been there I cannot comment.
All starters €7. I chose the Croquant de Chèvre à La Figue & aux Amandes. Do not translate this literally. It is a thick slice of goats cheese topped with fig conserve and almonds and it is mouth watering. The rest of the party were conservative and settled for the Foie Gras Maison aux Cranberries. They may be spelt the same but the cranberries here are not like those from Tesco’s.
Main Courses – €9 for salads or vegetarian and the dearest €15.
I had the speciality of the day which was a mix of prawns, whitefish, squid and octopus, pan seared and with a simple herbed olive oil sauce. I am at a loss to remember what everybody else had, but they made appreciative noises and you can see the choices on the board!
All Desserts €6:
I could not resist the Fondant Chocolade with Salade de Fruits.
All in all another memorable meal in a great atmosphere.
We were recommended to eat at the Antico Martini by the concierge at the Hotel Kette, it being less than a stone’s throw across the bridge from the entrance. In better weather it must be stunning, but even in the rain the ambience is not to be faulted. The staff collected our umbrellas, waterproofs and hat and ushered us to a table under the rainproof awning looking out on to the small square which still sported a smattering of tourists braving the weather.
The menu and wine list were duly provided together with a complimentary hors d’ouvre in the shape of a miniature kilner jar containing a parfait of basil sauce and a whole prawn. Exquisite!
Helen and Josephine chose the giant scampi with courgette; I opted for the tagliatelli with prawn and wild mushrooms whilst Trevor decided on the veal. Helen chose a glass of rosé and the rest of us shared a bottle of the local red, Rosso del Veronese, which proved to be eminently drinkable.
You are probably fed up with me using superlatives but, if you are eating in Venice, this is a restaurant not to be missed. The scampi would have been lobsters in another life, the tagliatelli sauce was as delicate as (good taste leaves me speechless) whilst Trevor’s veal melted in the mouth. I speak from firsthand knowledge.
Somebody slipped in the sweet menu and, having gone a whole day with very little sustenance, we were caught in another trap. The girls settled for the fruit tart and the boys for the baked crepes stuffed with vanilla sauce (and raspberries and blackcurrants). I got a share of Trevor’s as well!
We (Trevor and I) decided on a coffee and liqueur to end the experience. The grappa is a must, although Trevor disagrees on this and settled for Benedictine!
The price tag of €326, including 14% service, reflected the quality of both the cuisine and the service so we have no complaints.
Apex Jazz Band
Another excellent lunch with the Apex Jazz Band as the main attraction, no detraction from the Lady Captain, Rosie Wilson, intended.
This is now a twice yearly event and is one of the most popular on the club’s social programme. David Alexander’s buffet left nothing to complain about. Starter, vegetable soup, followed by a carvery of beef, ham (absolute perfection), turkey and stuffing; with vegetables, roast and mashed potatoes and the usual accompaniments. For those who could manage it this was followed by David’s unsurpassable apple crumble (with custard), berry pavlova,chocolate gateau and something else that I cannot recall. The only complaint I heard was that the beef was a bit gristly. Mine was OK, but one cannot expect to feed over a hundred golf club members and guests and escape without a grouse or two!
We called it an afternoon at about 4.45, the band having played their final number around four, but there were still plenty of people left enjoying the company.
Altogether another success for John Greer and the entertainment committee.
Following our walk around Mount Stewart Gardens we felt a little peckish so, being on the right road, where else would one go for lunch but the Portaferry Hotel. I had a few qualms about getting a table as it is one of the most popular venues in the area on Sundays and holidays. They do not accept bookings for bar lunches but one can book a table in the restaurant. We arrived about 1.45 and found the bar full but the bartender suggested we have a drink and he would see what he could do. Being a sensible commercial enterprise they threw open the restaurant for the bar overflow so we were only kept ten minutes or so.
The lunch menu is pretty extensive but, as the hotel is famed for its fish and the haddock and mussels had run out, there was only one choice to my mind; seared scallops with bacon and garlic and sauté potatoes. Josephine went for the Steak and Guinness pie with champ and fresh vegetables. Unfortunately they do not have a Pinot Grigio by the glass so I settled for a McGuigan’s Chardonnay. Passable, just!
The scallops were a dream with piles of chopped garlic and julienne strips of bacon in a butter sauce. The sauté potatoes were more like wedges which mad them ideal for soaking up the sauce and garlic. This is not a dish for the cholestroley challenged patron!!
Josephine’s pie consisted of about half a pound of steak, in 2″ dice chunks, with the Guinness sauce and a feather-light puff pastry crust set on top. A generous helping of champ was served on a side plate and the vegetables, cauliflower and peas also came separately. Even with my taking one chunk of beef Josephine struggled to finish and enthused over the taste of bothe the pie and the champ.
I was unable to resist a portion of the double chocolate torte with fresh cream. Very nice if you are into chocolate as I am.
It is not surprising that it is so popular and one hopes that the lady chef, who has been in residence for 38 years, never decides to leave.
The Finger Dancer
Carrickfergus Sailing Club, Retired Dancers Social Group held a Mayday reunion dinner at the club; on Saturday 1st May believe it or not. Twenty members met in the bar for a pre prandial drink (or two) and to catch up with the local gossip.
Smart as Carrots
As is usual for these functions the Maestro (Linden Graham in his other life) had emailed or phoned the menu to all concerned and, so that could be no squabbling, printed each out each couples choice. It goes without saying that there was still one dispute as to whether this was correct (no names no pack drill).
As this is posted to the Eating Out section I suppose I had better comment on the catering. We had selected the chicken liver pate with hot buttered toast and plum chutney to start. The pate was tasty and the toast hot, although I was not keen on the plum chutney (I am not keen on chutneys anyway) Josephine finished hers and pronounced it very good.
I did not get any reports on the soup but there were rave reports on the deep fried breaded Garlic Mushrooms with dressed salad and garlic dip. we had also both chosen the same main, the selection of fresh sea-food (salmon, smoked haddock, king tiger prawns) in a white wine and butter sauce topped with mash and oven baked. There is only one word – sublime. The sides, chips, garlic sautéed potatoes and a selection of vegetables could not be faulted for either presentation or quality. The vegetables were cooked just to perfection. I cannot vouch for the other choices which included Chicken, pork loin or sirloin but the consensus was that it would have been hard to fault. Sweets included bread and butter pudding and apple pie with cream or ice cream.Again there were no complaints and we finished off with teas and coffees. Where else can you get a 3 course meal plus coffee for £25 a couple (three quid extra for the sirloin). Add to the this the club bar prices and you have a great evening out at a very reasonable price (even if you have to factor in taxis).
Passe Doble specialists
We then had to work off the calories and the music took over.
Cha Cha Cha!
Some of us attempted to recall all the various dances we had learnt in the not very distant past. I will not comment on how well we managed this.
Attempting to dance
All in all a great evening in excellent company.
Congratulations to all who contributed and also to the catering staff who produced and served such an excellent meal.
Fancied a change of venue for a quick lunch on Friday so, being somewhat of a fan of Michael Deanes reinvented restaurant, thought we would try the seafood bar. I should have known it was not the place for “quick”, this is not a complaint it’s just that you don’t rush things in Deanes! The service was efficient and the staff friendly and there were obviously a few regulars in and out. As is our wont we started with a glass Pinot Grigio which arrived in adequate quantity, none of your minimal unit measuring glasses here. Josephine settled on the smoked haddock chowder and I went for the salt and chilli squid. I am something of a specialist on this variation of squid and had not found anything to beat the one served in Shu on the Lisburn Road. This recipe definitely has the edge. There are no tentacles, which I happen to like, but it is cooked to perfection – not a hint of rubber – and has just the right amount of chilli bite. The light bed of salad and accompanying herb oil sets the whole dish off perfectly. Josephine was somewhat sceptical on the chowder feeling that the seafood version in the Oyster Bar at Victoria Square was more substantial. Midway through she had decided that it was as good as it gets and enthused on the flavour – I did get a sip and could not argue the point. Had we had more time we would most likely have tried the sweets as the ones on the next table were most enticing, still there is always another day.
We will add this to the list of excellent places for lunch at sensible prices and to this end I attach the link for the menu. Sorry no illustrations available.
It is the first time I have come across an eatery which offers about 8 individual country based service counters all cooking their various menus to order. This is in addition to the bar and sweets areas.
Located on the 7th floor of the Central Department Stores building in Chidong; on entering one is given a card on which you can purchase food/drinks up to the value of 1000bht (currently around £20). All bags bigger than handbags have to be checked in. Find yourself a table and ask one of the numerous waiters to put an occupied sign on it. You choose your starters or whatever at one of the stands where your card is scanned and you are given a receipt. Return to the table and give it to a passing waiter who will then collect it when ready. The process is repeated for each course you fancy from whichever country you fancy, Thai, Korean, Italian, Greek, Chinese etc. etc. If you run over your limit, (hard to do) you must pay the card and get a new one. No chance of holding two cards. Nor can you get out without it!!
The food is great, well prepared and true to type. The wines and beers are good and not expensive. A really great place to eat.
Anyone for elevenses? If so Agalico is an absolute must. Decorated throughout in white this is a haven of quiet elegance that serves a variety of teas and coffees’ along with a selection of cakes and scones that are to die for. It only opens three days a week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and is the protogee of the top interior and landscape designer, Mom Luang Poomchai Chumbala, who runs it as a hobby rather than a business.
It is a haunt of both Thai and ex-patriot (of many nationalities) society and when we visited there was a a mix of age groups from 20 somethings to chic dowagers.
The garden to the rear houses a beautifully set out garden with a glassed in white gazebo and a myriad of interesting statuettes.