Dining out is one of my favourite pastimes and way back in January I made a somewhat expensive resolution to try lots of new restaurants and broaden my culinary horizons.
I have a tendency to revisit places a good feed is guaranteed, but with an abundance of new restaurants peppering the little streets of Belfast it was time to ditch the tried and tested list.
Now that we are almost half way through the year – a scary thought indeed – it is a fitting time to share with you some of the eateries that have tickled my taste buds thus far.
Bo Tree Kitchen
‘The Holylands’ might be better known for its Saint Patrick’s Day street gatherings than dinner dates, but first on my list is Bo Tree Kitchen – an authentic Thai restaurant – nestled right in the heart of this student area on University Street.
Clean and simple décor gives Bo Tree Kitchen a relaxed feel and on the first page of the menu diners are informed that fresh herbs and spices are flown in weekly from Thailand; you really get the sense quality food comes first in this restaurant.
To start with a friendly waiter explained there is no real distinction between starters and main courses in Thai cuisine, the food arrives when it is ready and everyone digs in.
I am not overly enthusiastic about sharing food – what if I don’t like what my fellow diners choose or there just isn’t enough – so we adopted the traditional ‘I’ll eat mine, you eat yours policy’ and ordered two dishes each with a side.
I choose the spicy beef salad and drunken duck and while the salad was colourful, fresh and fragrant with lots of coriander, chilli and lime it had more than a strong hint of garlic which was overpowering for me.
The drunken duck on the other hand was really delicious; served with sticky Thai rice the soft meat coated in a sticky sauce with chilli and green beans melted in my mouth and I could have happily eaten a second portion.
My dining companions also had good reports about their choices – Stir fried chicken with cashew nuts, chill and onion and Green curry with prawns. In fact I had a dose of food envy when the crispy fried rolls stuffed with vegetables and noodles arrived at the table… maybe it is time to rethink my non-sharing stance after all.
With a wide ranging menu that includes curries, stir fries and noodle dishes and the added bonus of BYO – Bo Tree Kitchen is affordable and the food is great making it well worth a visit.
Exclusively vegetarian restaurants are hard to come by in Belfast, so when I heard Jumon had opened its doors earlier this year on Fountain Street I was suitably intrigued.
Jumon has a cool and contemporary feel and the dim lighting and quirky interior makes this restaurant stand out as a unique dining experience. The Asian inspired menu is well thought out with a good selection of breakfast, lunch and drinks options.
I visited the restaurant for a lunch date with some work mates and ordered the Pad Thai – a noodle dish with carrot and tofu – which was beautifully presented in a speckled bowl that caught my eye.
Crispy courgette thins and sunflower seeds added crunch to the wet Pad Thai and the flavours fused beautifully in sweet and tangy harmony. The jury remains undecided about the addition of tofu – I felt the Pad Thai could hold its own without a meat based substitute.
One of my work mates opted for the Malayoo curry with lentil, vegetables, peanut, and pickled pineapple and this also looked and smelled amazing.
With most main meals costing around the £7.50 mark, Jumon is reasonably priced and the dishes are healthy and filling – now that’s what I call clean eating!
The restaurant formerly known as Rhubarb is now Hope Street and where would you find this cleverly named restaurant… on Hope Street of course.
Situated just off Great Victoria Street, this is a BYO restaurant, a rare treat for somewhere so close to the city centre.
I booked a table for a traditional ‘girls birthday night out’ and the waiter must have sensed I was fond of a tipple as he reminded me twice on the phone it was BYO – fear not dear sir we are not the sort of girls who go thirsty.
Hope Street is a cute little restaurant and has a real buzz about it. While we visited on a busy Friday evening, the waiting staff where attentive and our food arrived promptly.
As this was a birthday treat for us ladies we decided to go the full hog and order three courses. For starter I had the goat’s cheese fritters with red onion jam, walnuts and apple salad; the fritters were coated in a light crumb, the red onion added sweetness, with the walnuts providing crunch.
For the main event, the slow-cooked Beef Brisket with champ, glazed Carrots and Bourguignon Sauce took my fancy. The beef was tender and the rich sauce and smooth mash were perfect accompaniments.
For dessert I choose the lemon posset which was a refreshingly zingy end to the meal.
Overall the restaurant was excellent value for money and had a good range of traditional and interesting menu choices, the waiting staff were very friendly and at no point did we feel rushed or pushed to leave.
I would highly recommend Hope Street for a weekend meal before a night on the town.