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Belfast Touring and Dining


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#1 Rail Paul

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 02:29 PM

NYT has an extensive article on Belfast today. Discussion of the scenic highlights and happening new places, including the Cathedral Quarter (Temple Bar north) and many new restaurants.

Paul Rankin rules the Belfast culinary scene with two highly regarded restaurants: Cayenne, at 7 Ascot House, Shaftesbury Square, 9033-1532, and Roscoff, 7-11 Linenhall Street, 9031-1150; www.rankingroup.co.uk. Cayenne, his latest establishment, has a fusion-style menu, with appetizers, in summer, like smoked Lough Neagh eel with roast beetroot, apple and horseradish cream ($13.65) and seared foie gras with duck confit spring rolls and peach chutney ($19), and main-course offerings ranging from slow-roasted rabbit with pappardelle, girolles, broad beans and pancetta ($27.35) to Korean spiced lamb chops with kimchi, roast aubergine and wok-fried potatoes ($29.15). A three-course dinner for two, including wine, will run about $180.

Roscoff Brasserie, modeled on Paul Rankin's first Belfast restaurant, is set in an inviting, coolly elegant space, and features a more traditional menu, drawing heavily on local ingredients. Main courses include rack and braised shoulder of lamb with crushed new potatoes and mustard jus ($33) and grilled wild salmon with sauce vierge and a panache of vegetables ($32). Dinner for two, including wine, will run about $145. A particularly good deal is the prix fixe menu at lunch, with $27.75 for two courses and $35.50 for three, not including wine.

If Paul Rankin has a chief rival, it is probably Michael Deane, the recipient of a Michelin star for Restaurant Michael Deane, 36-40 Howard Street, 9056-0000. There are actually two restaurants in this space, and the better deal is the street-level brasserie. Service can be maddeningly slow at times, but the food - including a recent lunch of a goat cheese tart and roast chicken - is hard to beat. Dinner for two, including wine, will run about $110 at the brasserie. A three-course meal at the main restaurant will cost about $190.

The gastropub movement has come to Belfast with Ta-Tu Bar & Grill, 701 Lisburn Road, 9038-0818. At this architecturally sleek establishment, there is a bar in front, complete with a D.J. and video screens, a small restaurant in the back and a lounge. Among the menu selections are grilled haloumi cheese with tomato and olive salsa ($10), a Moroccan vegetable tagine with couscous ($16.35), and roast shoulder of lamb with ratatouille dressing, tapenade and basil mash ($27.25). A meal for two with wine is about $80.

Botanic Road, especially the area around Queen's University, boasts a lively street scene, particularly after dark. (Well, at least most of the shops and cafes are open after 6.) You won't find much fine dining here, but there are some pleasant, casual restaurants drawing a youngish crowd. Among the most inviting is AM:PM, 67-69 Botanic Avenue, 9023-9443, where a meal of a pizza and a glass of wine for two will run about $22.

WHERE TO DRINK

One of the most famous pubs in Belfast is the Crown Bar Liquor Saloon, 46 Great Victoria Street, 9027-9901, www.crownbar.com, just down the street from the Grand Opera House. It's a tourist rite of passage to drop in at the Crown, which dates back to 1826 - it was bought by the National Trust in 1978 - and grab a pint of Belfast Ale while marveling at the ornate yellow, red and gold ceiling, and admiring the etched-glass doors that cordon off the 10 private booths. As for the food? Well, the portions - particularly at the highly touted Sunday lunch - are huge, but the food itself is largely indigestible.

Next door to the Crown is Robinson's, 38-42 Great Victoria Street, 9024-7447, a popular gathering spot for the 20-something crowd, particularly in the early evening, with a traditional pub setting in back on the ground level, a restaurant, and nightclubs upstairs and on the basement level. Other popular bars in the city center include the John Hewitt Bar, 51 Donegall Street, 9023-3768; the Fountain Bar and Restaurant, 16-20 Fountain Street, 9032-4769 (though here, too, skip the food); the Apartment, 2 Donegall Square West, 9050-9777; and Northern Whig, 2-10 Bridge Street, 9050-9888, an upscale cocktail bar that is housed in the vast three-story space of a former newspaper and often the starting-off point for clubgoers on a Saturday night.

The gay club scene is centered on the Cathedral Quarter, with Kremlin, 96 Donegall Street, 9031-6060, and Mynt, 2-15 Dunbar Street, 9023-4520, drawing large crowds after about 11 p.m.


Belfast

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#2 Steve R.

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 03:24 AM

NYT has an extensive article on Belfast today. Discussion of the scenic highlights and happening new places, including the Cathedral Quarter (Temple Bar north) and many new restaurants.

[i]Paul Rankin rules the Belfast culinary scene with two highly regarded restaurants: Cayenne, at 7 Ascot House, Shaftesbury Square, 9033-1532, and Roscoff, 7-11 Linenhall Street, 9031-1150; www.rankingroup.co.uk. Cayenne, his latest establishment, has a fusion-style menu, with appetizers, in summer, like smoked Lough Neagh eel with roast beetroot, apple and horseradish cream ($13.65) and seared foie gras with duck confit spring rolls and peach chutney ($19), and main-course offerings ranging from slow-roasted rabbit with pappardelle, girolles, broad beans and pancetta ($27.35) to Korean spiced lamb chops with kimchi, roast aubergine and wok-fried potatoes ($29.15). A three-course dinner for two, including wine, will run about $180.

Roscoff Brasserie, modeled on Paul Rankin's first Belfast restaurant, is set in an inviting, coolly elegant space, and features a more traditional menu, drawing heavily on local ingredients. Main courses include rack and braised shoulder of lamb with crushed new potatoes and mustard jus ($33) and grilled wild salmon with sauce vierge and a panache of vegetables ($32). Dinner for two, including wine, will run about $145. A particularly good deal is the prix fixe menu at lunch, with $27.75 for two courses and $35.50 for three, not including wine.




Bourdain spent some time with Rankin on tonite's "No Reservations" episode. Quite interesting.
Please... no more snow.

#3 Rail Paul

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 02:12 PM

Nice Travel Section article in the WSJ about staying in Northern Ireland's capital.

QUOTE
What to do: Peace and a decade of strong economic growth are remaking much of Belfast into something thoroughly modern with high-rise hotels, world-class concert spaces and a throbbing club scene. But a visit to the rapidly transitioning city should start away from the nouveau glitz with a "black taxi" tour of politically charged West Belfast, ground zero during the 30-year period of unrest and violence known as The Troubles. The area is still divided by a "peace" wall, with Union Jacks flying on the Protestant, loyalist side and Irish tricolors flapping on the Catholic, republican side. Tours visit landmarks on both sides, including jails, memorials and a series of provocative murals. Many of the drivers are former political prisoners, and therefore biased in one direction or the other, but they all have fascinating stories to tell. Try TaxiTrax or, better yet, ask a concierge to arrange for a hotel pickup with a trustworthy service (around $45 per cab; Tel. 44-2890-315777; www.taxitrax.com). For a quieter alternative, stroll through the grounds of Queen's University, founded by Queen Victoria in 1845, and be sure to peek inside its Great Hall, adorned with portraits of famous alumni like the Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney. Adjoining the college is the city's tranquil Botanic Gardens, which has a diverse collection of roses and a glass Palm House.


Where to eat and drink: Lunch under the dome of the Great Room in Merchant's Hotel -- where a three-course meal can be less than $30 (about £19.50) -- is a surprisingly affordable treat. Nearby Nick's Warehouse offers a diverse menu that will please both vegetarians and meat lovers (35-39 Hill St.; Tel. 44-2890-439690). Back in the university area, The Moghul is a budget option that serves delicious Indian fare (62 Botanic Ave.). Belfast is full of lively pubs, where Guinness flows and traditional Irish music is likely to break out at any time. Many great ones are bunched together in the narrow alleys of the city's Cathedral Quarter. Check out The Duke of York , where patrons spill out onto the cobblestones (Commercial Court between Donegall and Henry Streets; Tel. 44-2890-241062). Also try The John Hewitt, which is decorated in satiric political art (51 Donegall St.; Tel. 44-2890-233768).

Where to stay: Close to city center and the Cathedral Quarter, an old seed warehouse has been converted into the Malmaison hotel, which has an ambitious, modern vibe and a top-notch brasserie (Rates range from $132 to $600, or 90 to 400 pounds; 34-38 Victoria St.; Tel. 44-2890-220200). Around the corner, an old bank building houses the elegant Merchant Hotel (Rates from about $207 or 140 pounds; 35-39 Waring St.; Tel. 44-2890-234888). A bargain near Queen's University is the stately red-brick Marine Guest House (Doubles with private bath from $89 or 60 pounds including breakfast; 30 Eglantine Ave.; Tel. 44-2890-662828).




WSJ

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#4 Anny

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 08:51 PM

Paul Thanks for this. We're going over on Friday for the first time for a rugby match and eating at Deanes.

#5 Anny

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 07:50 PM

A good weekend was had by us in Belfast despite the gales, 80mph wind,teeming rain and Quins lost! We had a jolly good dinner at Deanes with a couple of friends on Friday night. An update: the Brasserie is now in a separate building along the road - the main restuarant is o Howard Street. According to our friends, the formality and stuffiness of pristine tablecloths and fussy service has gone. This has been replaced by modern settings, good stemware and good, friendly service. It has retained its Michelin Star in the 2009 list. We had aperitifs, three courses and the good value wine flight (at £20-00) for £75-00 per head including service. More later... We took the opportunity this morning to take the Black Cab taxi tour (£25-00 for 1 hour) up the Falls Road and Shanklin Rd. Our driver was knowledgeable, informative and relatively unbiased wishing to look for reconciliation and the future. Laughingly, he felt a visit by Obama was due! The peace walls were interesting from both perspectives and kept very up to date with current affairs. I wonder whether some of these talented artists could become household names. I loved the Guernica Mural but was spooked by the "Mona Lisa" sniper one. We were glad we did this because the most striking thing was how similar and to the same standard the houses/estates looked on each side of the peace walls thus dispelling some long held myths.

#6 Anny

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 07:13 PM

Dinner at Deanes Starters Veal Carpaccio of veal, pan fried sweetbreads, braised morels, runner bean salad & almond butter vinaigrette - very tasty, good combination. John Dory Pan-fried John Dory in crisped couscous with baked Piedmontes red pepper, olive polenta & basil tapenade - small, perfectly cooked piece of fish Foie Gras Foie gras & chicken liver parfait with spiced fig chutney & brioche - What can I say, delicate, tasty, beautifully presented. Wood pigeon Slow poached breast of wood pigeon with confit leg pastilla, pickled carrot with watercress salad, orange emulsion & Valrhona - a first for our friend with the Valrhona. Main courses Duck Breast of Irish duck with warm confit leg & chesnut terrine, savoy cabbage ginger bread purée & vanilla pear - wolfed down! Halibut Pan-fried halibut, fennel brandade with piquillo pepper, braised bortolli beans, sauce tapenade & sea fennel - Beef Aged loin of Fermanagh beef cooked in hay, buttered green beans, triple cooked chips beef flavoured bearnaise sauce & bone marrow - asked for med/rare, came as such in three cubes, chips perfect. Sole Grilled sole with cured cucumber, brown shrimps, capers, lemon, parsley & smoked butter - felt smoked butter was slightly overcooked which overshadowed a perfectly cooked large sole. Desserts Delicate, small portions but enough to share 2 of each: Chocolate - desirable and delicious Pear - recommended by the staff as their favourite. Definitely the best in Belfast at the moment, not cheap but high quality.