Tagged in: dining out

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.

Hugo, 12 rue Papillion, Paris

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.

The Food Loft, Central Store, Chidlom, Bangkok

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.

Grottino, 9-10 Sukhumvit, Soi 19, Bangkok

Can anybody remember when the Fondue was in fashion.  No?  Our final evening in Bangkok was spent in the Grottino, a Swiss owned and run restaurant in Soi Wattana off Sukhumvit. It is typical Swiss decor with large round wooden tables and chairs to match.  The manager Mr Winkler made sure we were comfortably installed and checked on the service throughout the evening.

If you have visited Germany or Switzerland you may well be aware of the Ungarische Goulaschsuppe which is a firm favourite of the region.  It is more like a beef casserole with plenty of paprika added.  The one served here would grace the best I have had and was served with their own home made Swiss style brown bread.  There was white as well!

As a main course we went for the beef  fondue for two, which turned out to be served with a side salad with a choice of French or Italian dressings, a collection of dips, olives, gherkins and silverskin onions, fine cut fries.  The beef is prime Australian.  All in all there was enough for at least three! The quality and service left nothing to be desired.

They have a good choice of wines and also do have imported Bitburger Pils.

Our friends, who use the restaurant on a regular basis, had the schnitzels and as their plates were empty one assumed they were satisfied too.

Cabbages and Condoms, Sukhumvit, Soi 12, Bangkok

Went to dinner last evening with Sandy and Kay McKinnon and a party of friends at this most unusual of venues in Bangkok. It is part of a project to bring aids awareness to Thailand and make condoms as accessible as cabbages, hence the name.

The decor is unashamedly in-your-face with mannequins dressed in costumes fashioned completely out of condoms etc..

The food is Thai with a selection to cover all tastes.  We picked a selection of starters including rice cakes, spring rolls, sate and chicken and sweetcorn baskets.  Main courses were pork in yellow curry, spicy (very) prawns, chicken with lemongrass and crab patties to name but a few. It was all extremely tasty and helped by both the company and some very passable red wine (and beer for some) we spent a very enjoyable evening, the highlight of which was the Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir (over for a festival) who were also eating there and gave an impromptu rendering of  various traditional welsh songs.

Carrickfergus Sailing Club

The indomitable members of CSC BDDS (ballroom dancing debating society) block booked the largest table available for the Valentines Dinner on Saturday 13tn.

It’s the first time that we have eaten there since Liberty Catering, in the guise of Phil McCleery, took over the kitchens. Fortified with a couple of pre prandial Bombay and tonics we took our places for the feast (due to the organisational acumen of our retired master class instructor, Linden Graham, we had pre-booked our menus).

The soup, chicken, celery and spring onion arrived hot, a plus to start with, and was really tasty,  reports on the stuffed garlic mushrooms and Caesar Salad offered no cause for concern.

For main course I had opted for the Medallions of Pork with Onion rings, rosemary gravy and tangy apple sauce.  This came served on a bed of mashed potato.  The gravy was rich, the onion rings crisp and the pork well done.  The vegetables, which came a little late were plentiful and well cooked.  Josephine had taken the baked salmon with tiger prawns and Hollandaise sauce.  Her only complaint was that the crust was cremated! We washed this down with a very acceptable Australian Merlot.

For sweet I took the chocolate mousse with mango coulis and fresh cream.  The mousse was light and chocolatey but I was not particularly impressed by the mango sauce which I, personally found a little overpowering. The whole meal was rounded off with a choice of complimentary Irish or Baileys coffee.  With a price tag of £32 a couple including service one would have to be niggardly to complain.

Unfortunately the disco was not up to the standard of the food, but true to form our group managed to solve the problems of the world before our taxis whisked us away into the night.  Great evening!


Deans Belfast

Deans Belfast

It is some time since I was last in Deanes and at then it had the brasserie on the ground floor and, what I considered to be, a rather pretensious restaurant on the first.  What a change for the better.  It is now clean cut and comfortable.  The reception area is perfect for a pre dinner drink and the “bite” they served along with it was good enough to request as a main course!  The dining area is roomy and bright with a minimum of “fuss”. 

On being seated we had a selection of mini “loaves” with a choice of unsalted or Dulse (seaweed flavoured) butter.  A sort of pre-starter starter.

There is a choice of  5 starters and 5 mains on the àl a carte menu.  I chose the pan-fried local scallops with onion choucroute, pork cheek, fried black pudding bread and cauliflower.  The others, cappachio of smoked monkfish and slow poached breast of wood pigeon, were equally exotic and there were no complains either about the presentation or the flavours. 

 Accompayning wines were a Merlot and a delightfully crisp Pino Grigio. 

The John Dory fillet , pan fried with crab rosti, cured cucumber, spiced brown shrimps and lemon parsley butter was definately a winner for me and my fellow diners were as enthuiastic about the aged loin of Angus beef and breast of Irish duck.  The chips, which came as a side order, achieved being crisp and floury at the same time – mouthwatering.

For sweets we had one ice cream selection, which I was assured was a tasty as it appeared, and the reast of us shared the chesse board.  Our waiter explained each of the selection and suggest the best order in which to eat to gain the most from the various flavours.  The only disappointing piece was a Parisian goats cheese.  We made this point and were treated to commentary on the method by which it was made and the fact that, compared with some other goats cheeses, it could be considered less strongly flavoured.  A pleasure to have somebody serving who really knows their  “product” rather than just being competent.  We accompanied this with the recommended 10 year old port followed by cognac and coffee.

What more could one ask for on a damp Tuesday evening.