Tagged in: Belfast

The Ginger Bistro, Hope Street, Belfast

Ginger Bistro

Located only about a couple of hundred yards from the Grand Opera House the Ginger Bistro is in an ideal position for a pre theatre meal.

The menu which runs from 5 to 6.45 is an extremely well priced truncated version of the main menu.

We ordered a plate of breads to share which came with one of the best  tapenade I have tasted.  Oh yes; and a perfect melt in the mouth wheaten.

As mains we opted for the pies, one fish and the other a Shepherd’s.  The shepherd’s included perfectly cooked lamb, in large chunks, chorizo and black pudding. Both came in individual pie dishes piping hot.  The potato topping was nicely browned without being dried out.  Altogether very appetizing.  We accompanied them with chips and a bottle of South African Shiraz.

I took an Americano to round it all off.  Total bill £45.00.

The service was personal and efficient so we will no doubt be back.

Belfast Christmas Market

Why go all the way to Cologne or Salzburg when you can get the same effect in the centre of Belfast.

The Christmas Market is in full swing in front of City Hall complete with Beer Tent, Gluhwein and “Bratty” stalls, and yes, they have proper “senf”, German mustard, to go with them.

 

Of course there are plenty of other stalls to attract one and by the number of people braving  the not too clement weather on Saturday morning it is as popular as ever.

Scalini, 85 Botanic Avenue, Belfast

First time we have tried Scalini’s Italian restaurant on Botanic Avenue.  They do not accept bookings for parties under 8 but as this was a pre theatre meal we arrived at 6 to find plenty of room.  Beware that you may have to climb a few staircases to your table as they are set out on a number of floors. The service is friendly and efficient, they whisked our coats away which is something that is sadly lacking in a lot of restaurants. Having seated us and provided menus we were not immediately hassled to give in our order.  We were accompanied by Linden and Amy and all four of us settled on the pasta as main course.  My Fusili Milanesi, smoked bacon, chilli, mushrooms and peas was not to be faulted and as I got a share of Linden’s Carbonara and Josephine’s meatballs I can also vouch for the standard of these dishes.  Amy did not give me a chance at her Linguini Pescatore, but as the plate was bare except for mussel shells we can take it that it met with similar approval.  The house red is an Italian Shiraz which goes very well with pasta and is a snip at £13.45.

Of course we couldn’t pass up the sweet menu. Try the Affogato, a scoop of vanilla ice with biscotti served with a shot of expresso and the same of Amaretto on the side. Moorish.

Lovely meal well served and all in including wine £69.50 – who could ask for anything more.

CO CO, 7-11 Linenhall Street, BELFAST, BT2 8AA

If you haven’t been yet try it out. We were invited by friends to the Hi-Life Dining club get together celebrating  COCO winning their Restaurant of the Year award.  Due to circumstances beyond my control this is the first chance I have had to update my site.

When we arrived there was a very accomplished all girl swing/jazz band performing in the foyer.  A chat with their manager somewhat later in the evening identified them as the Swing Girls.

This intro was accompanied by a remarkably good Prosecco Frizzante (last time I had one this smooth was in Treviso) and canapés.

Our companions for the evening were the  Grahams’, the Johnstons’, both of whom we have dined with before, and William Wallace and his wife Claire. Two famous names on one table!

The first course was Hand Dived Scallops, seared, with Jerusalem artichokes, gnocchi and a lobster gratin and accompanied by a South Australian white wine.

To clear the palate a grapefruit and Campari sorbet followed.  This is not for the faint-hearted. I am a Campari fan and found the combination, how shall I put it, interesting.  If one is not a Campari fan I can understand the comment “breath taking”!

The main course was a Chateau de Blomac Minervois 2008 – Oops! Sorry! that was just the wine that went with the roast sirloin, potato rosti truffle Madeira etc. By this time the conversation and craic had become as important as the meal and the impeccable service, overseen by Tom, the Aussie manager, assured that a memorable evening was under way.

I’ll not repeat the error of the previous paragraph, the sweet was an Apple Tatin, I’ve added a link to save explanation, with vanilla ice cream and; yes, you’ve guessed, a superb Sauternes.

The coffee was a real godsend and we did manage the petit fours, though in truth we did not really need them!

All in all an  evening memorable for the food, wine and excellent company, not necessarily in that order.

An experience we hope to repeat in the not too distant future.

 

 

Holi – Festival of Colours, Belfast

Enough Said!

Holi is an ancient pre christian Indian rite celebrating of the coming of Spring and was originally thought to have been performed by married women for the well being of their families.

Arts Ekta has been been producing the Belfast version of this festival in St Georges market since 2008, however, due to catching a clip on Radio Ulster this is the first time we have had the pleasure of attending.

We were surprised by the popularity – this being obvious by the length of the queue to gain admission.  At £1.00 a head it is really good value for money.  Find me anywhere where you can take the kids (Grandchildren) out and keep them entertained for that, plus drinks pressies and the usual add-ons mind you.

Of course, this being an Asian festival, there were a lot of Japanese stalls selling macramé and the like for the tsunami victims. My youngest granddaughter now has a collection of paper roses and vases!

St. Cecelia’s Dance Academy

Ther were the usual stalls offering various styles of food and I  was surprised that there was only one offering curries and Indian “tapas”.  Unfortunately they ran out of Nan bread and when I got to the head of the queue there was a 15 minute wait for rice.  I settled for pakoras and samosas which were very tasty.

The entertainment was in the form of various dance troupes and bands, including the dance academy from St Cecelia’s in Derry.

 

Birmingham/Punjabi

It says something that the Punjabi folk dancing troupe, Balle Shava, are from Birmingham and the spectacular Bollywood Fusion Dancers are all Scottish born!

Probably the most spectacular were the Desi Brave Hearts, a Bollywood fusion troupe all of whom were born is Scotland. their energy and co-ordination was perfection.

Having said this all the acts were very good.

Desi Brave Hearts

South Asian Dance Academy

The actual highlight of the afternoon, the throwing of coloured powder on your family, friends and strangers, was a bit of a disaster as the stewards failed to make sure everybody was in the designated channel.

We were lucky to get into the arena as they ran out of powder sachets about 4 people behind us and, having queued for 45 minutes this must have been a bit of a let down. The reason given was the unprecedented number of people participating. I suspect that they will learn their lessons and next year will be better organised.

M1 Services North, Lusk

"a cafe" & Burger King

The new service stations on the Dublin Motorway are a godsend.  No longer any problems with refuelling and their prices are about average for Diesel. At the time of this post about 10% cheaper than NI.

The restaurant area is immaculately clean as are the toilets. There is a choice of three franchises, “a Cafe”, Burger King and Costa.

The Cafe was offering a 9 item breakfast at €8.95 (including a free Irish Times), or a free mug of soup with any sandwich or pannini.

There were a number of other hot dishes, lasagne being one I recognised. I settled for a baked potato with chilli con carne and whilst the chilli was not eye watering it had a certain piquancy and would probably suit the vast majority of tastes.  I accompanied it with a mug of Earl Grey.  You cannot really go wrong, you pick the tea bags you want and fill the pot with boiling water. Price €10.80.

Other facilities are a childrens play area, games arcade and showers

Costa corner

If the other stations are up to, and maintain this standard they will probably do quite well.

Bastille, 182a Lisburn Road,Belfast

The only thing missing is escargot! The Bastille has a distinctly French approach to food and decor.  Our party of four had  pretty eclectic tastes and the menu certainly caters for a broad range including a seperate vegetarian section.  My starter choice was potted rabbit with onion marmalade whilst my companions went variously for frogs legs, mussles and the bouillabaisse (not the Marsailles version with fish heads etc.).

A very good Côte du Rhône (well two actually) accompanied the main courses of which the medallions of monkfish with wild mushrooms on spinach and the barbary duck were especially outstanding.

We shared two crème brûlée and a cheese board.  both were outstanding and the lattter more so for the choice of around six cheeses and not a hint of cheddar.

We wound up with port, coffee and brandy, plus one grand marnier.

Service was pleasant and efficient and with an overall price tag around £225 very good value for money.

Malone House, Barnett Demesne

This is Rose week at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park so lunch at Malone House just off the Milltown Road, only a stones throw away, seemed like a reasonable option.  Hadn’t been there since the factory moved from the Boucher Road five years ago so was not sure what to expect. It is run by Belfast City Council and is popular for weddings, funerals and conferences; not necessarily in that order. It sits in a pleasant park bordering on the DUB playing fields, which meant the dogs got a walk, and the views from the rear of the building across the Lagan valley are exceptional (hence its popularity for weddings).

The Barnett room, which is the bar/restaurant is cosy and seats about thirty at a push. There were a few tables occupied and a funeral party were in one of the function rooms. This means that the staff were shunting between the two venues so the service was a little slow.

We waited about ten minutes to get menus and were informed that the days special was baked gammon with parsley sauce. We ordered this and a couple of glasses of sauvignon blanc.  The wine, and water, arrived shortly but it was near fifteen minutes before the main course arrived.

There was a substantial slice of gammon and the parsley sauce was rich with cream.  The mashed potato was a good as one would get anywhere and the vegetables, cauliflower, green beans, broccoli  and baby sweetcorn suited my preference for having them undercooked but Josephine felt they were a little bit too much on the raw side.

At £22.90 one could not complain about value for money.

They also do a great line in scones with cream and jam as elevenses or afternoon tea.

P.S. The roses were impressive too!

Deanes Seafood Bar – Update

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.