Tagged in: food

Khayber Indian Restaurant – 373-375 Antrim Road, Glengormley BT36 5EB

After a long time, must be over 5 years, since we last went to the Khayber we have now been twice in the past month. The décor is still similar with rather traditional red drapes, which give it a old fashioned feel, and dim lighting.  The service is efficient if not effusive and one is left to pour ones own wine from the start.

Having said this the food leaves nothing to be desired. I chose the Lamb Tikka Garlic Chilli Masala and was  offered a choice of the lamb cooked tender or from the tandoor which leaves it, whilst not tough,much more “solid”. I prefer the tandoori version and was not disappointed.  It is classed as hot and lives up to this with plenty of onion and chilli and a really tasty sauce.  Josephine, who prefers the milder spiced dishes, took the Chicken Dopiaza which comes with cubed onions and green peppers. Our usual sides are Aloo Gobi and Tarka Dall, lentils in spiced sauce, or Chana Bhagee, the chick pea version.  One boiled rice and a nan bread completed the meal.

We washed it down with the house red, which at £12.95 takes a lot of beating.

A really enjoyable meal with pleasant service and, at under £50 including wine, a brandy and a coffee, pretty hard to beat.

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.

Kay’s Foodhall, Blanchardstown Centre

Kay's Foodhall, "Real Chefs Real Food", Blanchardstown Centre

I seem to remember that the News of the World used to have a strapline (and maybe still does); “all human life is here” and this could well go for Kay’s in the Blanchardstown centre, just off the N3 Navan Road to the west of Dublin.

Their motto above the entrance is “Real Chefs Real Food” and there was certainly a man in a chef’s hat there when I called in for breakfast at 9.50 a.m, following an early start from Belfast and a site meeting near Clonee. At this time he was being bullied by a man with a very large camera on a tripod, who I assumed was a PR photographer. Apparently Kay’s investment in the Centre is around €1 million so I suppose they can afford to do a bit of promotional photography. Maybe it is for their website which is currently “under construction”!

The long and the short of it is that they serve an excellent breakfast with fried eggs that are soft, as requested, which is a welcome change from the plastic one is served up in many places. Personally I didn’t like the look of the scrambled eggs but they were very popular with the rest of the clientèle. The bacon was good, the black pudding piquant and the sausages nicely spiced. Toast comes in two large crusty slices and the teapot holds two large cups. Butter, Jam and Marmalade are gratis.
Add to this service with a smile and a bill around €6 and you would be left looking hard for something to complain about.

They have other counters, bakery  for instance, besides the breakfast bar but at that time in the morning they were a little under utilized.  This is Ireland remember.

Myos, Main Street, Castleknock, Dublin 15

Myos, Castleknock

Made a flying visit to Mount Sackville College, not far from Castleknock, to do a measure up. Was not there long and as Myos was a prominent feature opposite the Topaz garage where I stopped for diesel (15% cheaper than the North) and the car park looked pretty full I decided that it couldn’t be too bad for a spot of lunch.

An alcove

Entering the large open plan bar area the response to my query as to the availability of a sandwich was that there was only the carvery at lunchtime.

In for a penny in for a pound; I went round to the counter. There were a couple of people ahead of me so I got a chance to look at the offerings.  The roast beef and bacon joint looked really well but I am wary of the amount of food one is expected to eat: asking for small portions is normally greeted with disbelief  and the request ignored anyway.


I looked at the plates (about the size of serving trays) of the persons in front of me and saw that they were piled high with meat, roasted and mashed potato and a selection of vegetables.  If I’d eaten that lot I would have needed to sleep for the afternoon!

I settled for the peppered beef with rice and turned down the offer of vegetables and potato on the side! As it was it would have fed a family.

One could not complain about the quality or the quantity.  They serve decent quality food at a reasonable price (€10.00 for the carvery).

As for clientèle; amongst others there was a party of three young mothers with their children, a couple of local businessmen, a construction crew and the architect and the principal of the college. Not a bad mix for a Tuesday lunchtime.

Fitzpatrick’s, Rockmarshall, Jenkinstown, Co Louth


My good friends the Rankin’s called into the office to  discuss a piece of furniture and having finalised the design requirements, plus me having slipped a chair in to the equation, they invited me to join them for lunch. The idea was to test the newly opened Newry Bypass and get to Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant in record time. This of course did not take into account the erroneous reporting that the last section of the bypass had opened at eleven o’clock!  It hadn’t!  Looking across to the northbound carriageway it seemed that this had been opened at about 13.03.

The potting shed

On previous trips down the Carlingford road I do not recall getting past the Ballymascanlon Hotel so was amazed to be introduced to the Irish answer to the “Traditional Irish Pub” a couple of kilometres further down the road.

The bicycle park

Arriving in the car park at first glance Fitzpatrick’s appears as the picture book example of the rural farmhouse style building with whitewashed walls and slate roof.  The adjoining courtyard boasts a plethora of flowers growing in pots which are set in anything from bicycle baskets to a van engine compartment.  Of course there is also the regulation horse and donkey in the adjacent paddock. I actually thought that the donkey was a cast model until it brayed!

Once one enters it appears as the Irish answer to the ubiquitous “Irish Bar”, at least one of which is to be found in every major city round the world.  Every available inch of wall, cill and beam sports period adverts, pictures and artefacts.

The amazing thing is that it works without ever seeming to be “over the top”.

Every available space!

We were taken to our table by a young lady who was certainly not indigenous but who was definitely very well trained. She took our drinks order and provided us with menus.  At first glance it occurred to me that anyone who can include “Almost famous French Onion Soup” and “Now Famous Chicken Wings” as offerings is certainly worth a try.
Helen and I picked the Whole Baked Sea Trout on seared courgettes with Hollandaise sauce, with chips on the side, from the “day’s specials” menu whilst Trevor went for the sausages with champ and onion gravy.

The fish was cooked to perfection, just firm, and the chips were golden crisp; how do they do that?  The courgettes were melt in the mouth and the Hollandaise sauce complemented it all perfectly. Not only that but there was a serving of vegetables  as well:  cauliflower, broccoli, mange tout, carrots and green beans. All of which managed to be cooked “just so”.

Trevor report his sausage ring to be excellent and the same for the champ and gravy.

We finished up with a couple of standard coffees.

Not just any loo!

The Gents loo is also worth a mention as it resembles a Victorian apothecary’s. Beware the hand dryers which are designed to remove the skin along with the water!

We returned to Belfast via the now opened Newry Bypass. Unfortunately no-one was offering gifts for being one of the first 1000 cars.

Having said this there were lots of police out with little books and those flashy black things they are so fond of pointing at people.

No doubt we will revisit this excellent hostlery at some point in the not too distant future.

La Gondola, 373 Antrim Road, Glengormley

What does one do to cheer onself up on a wet Sunday evening?  Having been to La Gondola in the Olivia Centre, Glengormley, we now have the answer.  It has taken us 7 months to get round to trying this Italian restaurant and I am wondering why.

It does not try to emulate some of the better known Italian restaurants around Belfast city but it is reminiscent of many family Ristorante in urban Italy.

We were welcomed by the waiter, I will get his name next time, and given the menus and a complimentary slice of pizza.  There is not a wine list; they keep one red, a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, one Italian white and one Italian rosé.  Naturally we settled for the red.  You can bring your own at £3.00 for corkage.

The menu is set out Italian style and is kept simple, there are a good selection of starters or a mixed Antipasto. Pasta, chicken or sirloin mains and a selection of tagliatelli dishes. The pizza menu is separate. There is also a Continental Gourmet section.

This had Beef Carpaccio as an option.  I do not normally have a starter but who can resist raw slivers of beef marinaded in lemon with parmesan and crushed black peppercorns? Well not me anyway.

Josephine did side step and just settled for a main of  breast of chicken in a porcini sauce (special wild mushrooms with brandy and cream).  I got a taste of the sauce and it was delicious to say the least.

My main was Tagliatelli Arribiata, smoked bacon and piquant chilli and tomato sauce. I did not leave any!

Luigi, the chef and owner, came and chatted in a mixture of Italian and English but I will not pretend to have understood much of the Italian.  It is one language with which I have never managed to become conversant.

One of the waitresses unfairly slipped a Dolce Menu next to me, but I managed to put off ordering for at least five minutes! There were Crêpes Comedie Francais, which turned out to be two crêpes wrapped around vanilla ice cream and smothered in orange and brandy sauce. Sort of suzette with attitude.

There is no grappa on the drinks menu  but, seeing as it prides itself on being authentic Italian, I was sure that if the question were asked it would be forthcoming.  Right again; and it went down really well with the coffee.

The chef sent us a lemon liquer over and, having chatted him up we got an invite to his table for Monday night when they are holding a Salsa demonstration.

This is a welcome addition to the myriad of Chinise and Indian restaurants in the area.  One hopes it will be supported enough to remain in business.

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!

Simplon Orient Express, Venice to Paris

This was to be an “experience of a lifetime” holiday with our friends Trevor and Helen Rankin; with them celebrating their 45 wedding anniversary and for us, Josephine’s (if you don’t know, don’t ask) birthday.  After a completely uneventful journey, all flights being on time and the Aviance business lounge at Gatwick North being a haven of peace and quiet whilst dispensing restorative alcoholic beverages, we arrived at the Hotel Kette in Venice by water taxi in the pouring rain.  22⁰ mind you. 

It is an old fashioned hotel with a charm of its own.  The staff are friendly, the rooms comfortable and the prices reasonable. We dropped our bags and hied us into the bar for a much needed cool drink.  No local beer, but they do a great line in 7.7 proof Danish Ceres! 

We elicited the concierge’s help in picking a restaurant for dinner and he recommended the Antico Martini.The report on this can be found as a separate post.  It was magnificent! 

Having got back to our room we discovered that it was only nine pm so we ordered a bottle of Chianti from room service and endeavoured to stay awake until a reasonable hour for bed. I will not  enlighten you with further details of the evening.

We awoke early to the sound of the hotel service boat exchanging laundry three floors below. The weather had cleared so I decided to go out for a stroll and found that St. Marks square was about a 3 minute walk away. Six thirty in the morning is the ideal time to wander the streets of Venice. The only people about are the early shop keepers, joggers and a few hardy tourists. The clean smell of the sea wafts between the buildings and one can take in the sights without being bustled along. 

I collected Josephine and retraced the walk before meeting up for breakfast at eight.  A goodly spread it was; fruit, cereals, cold meats, cheese and coffee to die for. 

We were collected by a water taxi to take us to the station to embark on the next stage.  We thought that it would just run round the Grand Canal, however, we were treated to a tour of the one way system which short cuts the curves of the major thoroughfare. 

Our bags were collected from the taxi and transported to the booking in desk for the Orient Express. A word of warning;  do not use the currency exchange on the station – I was offered €47.60 for £60. I know sterling is not particularly strong but that is ridiculous.

The train, 17 coaches long,  is everything that you would expect; even before one embarks it exudes an aura of opulence, added to by the liveried carriage stewards who greet you at the door.  The cabins are luxurious without being large; with built in washing facilities, complimentary dressing gowns, fan etc.  As we had adjoining cabins we opened the connecting door which gave the appearance of far more room. Our carriage steward duly instructed us as to how everything worked. 

We went to the first sitting for lunch, a three course extravaganza starting with asparagus lasgne and followed by monkfish tail on a sweet pepper crepe with a curry sauce, fennel and basmati rice in a red pepper shell. Josephine and I chose a Chianti Classico whilst Trevor and Helen went for the Sancerre. The sweet was a mixture of fresh berries with ice-cream and splashed with fresh prosecco. Yum! 

We retired to our accommodation to take a snooze and watch the passing scenery. If you are contemplating a trip on the Orient Express do pick the Venice to Paris option. We have spoken to people who have taken the London to Venice route but the views are of flat countryside and by the time it reaches the Alps it is dark. 

Dinner is a black tie affair, although this is not de rigueur , and it was disappointing the number of people who appeared in lounge suits.  This did not detract from the food.  We opted for the 7.00 sitting which proved a good choice.  This time four courses, opening with sautéed filet of Turbot meunière, tarragon and tomato sauce and diced vegetable ragout (not my favourite accompaniment). The main was a roast rack of lamb with pesto and simmered purple artichokes, accompanied by a lamb spring roll with parmesan cheese and crispy potato “Anna” cake. The lamb was perfect. I would normally cremate mine but this managed to be medium and still fall off the bone. A cheese board followed, fairly frugal but tasty and then came the coconut blancmange with cardamom scented mango. If this was not enough coffee (or tea) was served with pastries. 

We hied ourselves down to the bar for a nightcap.  The bar seats 39 people approximately and the second dinner sitting were there.  We managed to acquire seats and get served.  What followed can only be described as Pythonesque. more people came from our sitting and passed down the car towards the bar and the piano. This continued for some 30 minutes. At about 9.30 they called the second sitting for dinner and people began to file back up the carriage.  I am still do not know where the came from as once again there was a steady stream. I am just glad that we did not opt for the 9.00 dinner as it was served nearly 45 minutes late which meant it would not have finished before 11.00 – not too good to sleep on! 

We returned to our couchette which was now transformed into a sleeping compartment with bunk beds.  I had the top.  Given that it was a strange environment we slept remarkably well.  Note that these are Victorian and there is no en-suite toilet.  They supply dressing gowns (€40 from the boutique if you want to take one with your) and slippers for night time excursions. 

We had booked breakfast, which is served in the compartment, for 7.00 so at 6.45 our steward arrived to convert it back to a sitting room. A class act that took no longer than three minutes!  Breakfast consisted of fruit juice, fruit salad, yoghurt, rolls, croissants, honey, cheese, jam with coffee and tea on the side! 

We rolled majestically through the countryside for a further hour and duly arrived at the Gare de l’Est around 8.20. 

Our luggage was delivered to us at the end of the platform and the next stage of our adventure began! 

Click on the photo below to go to the album for the trip and the choose “slideshow”.

Orient Express Trip

To read about the Paris adventure click here.

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.