I guess with any city, you have a preconceived idea of how it will be and following my visit there about 10 years ago I knew there where changes afoot.
Belfast has such a cutting edge food scene and I was privileged to experience two places with two of my Great British Menu peers.
The trip was simply a chance to have a few days off in a new city and recharge the batteries before the Christmas rush. Here at Rudding Park we have now sold out for Christmas day at Clocktower. Can you believe it!
Back to Belfast and in the words of my little nephew…
“It is not always all about food Aunty Steph!” Well actually this weekend was a real mix but the highlights for me where definitely eating at James Street South and Deanes at Queens.
Late arrival in the city on Thursday meant a wander around and we stumbled on the Christmas market . I have to be honest a glass or two of mulled wine was consumed and a hotdog of German sausage with crispy onions started the weekend off quite literally with a banger!
The Friday morning was spent wandering through this stunning place and look what we found…
Then onto the Titanic and what a museum experience. This was a real eye opener, not in the horror of the sinking (we all know that) but in the growth of the docks and the building of this vessel. I really enjoyed looking around, getting a feel for all things Titanic and I also bought my little nephew’s Christmas present!
Then onto the first meal of my two G.B.M. buddies with a trip to James Street South and a chance to meet Niall McKenna who was rushing out to do a private dinner in his building next door.
What a great chap very friendly, he really made us welcome and introduced us to a great team. David the Manager and William the Bar Manager took great care of us and the Head Chef, Steve, was a lovely guy and very very talented.
I found the food to be light, flavoursome and interesting. Thank you also goes to Sharn our waitress who was bubbly and fun.
But no rest in this city with Christmas shopping to do, you have everything within walking distance in the city centre- I definitely loaded up!
The next evening was a chance to meet one of the real characters and gastronomic gurus of Belfast Mr Michael Deane. Can you believe in my excitement I forgot to take his photo (Sorry Chef!) but I must admit it was an honour to meet a real Belfast success story. This chef has many high profile fans such as Roger Moore and U2 and I can see why the food is superb. Michael made us very welcome and talked to us about his restaurants and I was struck by what a passionate guy he was. Meeting his Head Chef, Chris Fearnan, at Deanes at Queens was great fun and highly gastronomic.
This chef’s food has been of great interest to me being a Great British Menu addict for obvious reasons!
I was not disappointed in this brassiere food in a busy restaurant. Check this out!
The evening started at 8pm and finished as the last table out at 1:30am- well done Chris you did us proud and many many thanks.
We should have visited Rankin’s but you cannot do them all and I have to leave something for next time!
So, after two indulgent days it was time to see what the rest of Northern Ireland had to offer and a chance to take the costal road to the Giants Causeway.
The Causeway was impressive and fun to walk over, look out to sea and read about the Myths.
Then our whistle stop tour ended with a real bit of Irish fun at the oldest distillery in Ireland. Bushmills.
Can you believe I was driving!
Still what history! What aromas! And what a great tour (I recommend it!)
So that leaves me to toast Northern Ireland on a high.
“If you have not been to Belfast and Northern Ireland it is definitely your loss. Welcoming people (especially Chefs!), amazing food, stunning views, Titanic history and a contemporary city.”
A great Craic!