Pastry lovers in Belfast face a new hazard to their waistline as Beannchor Group launches its first retail venture, Patisserie Mimi.
The chic high street shop next to Beannchor's newest pub, The National Grand Cafe Bar, is billed as a high-end artisan bakery selling breads from bloomers to Bavarian rye, and soured spelt flour bread with toasted sesame, pumpkin and also sunflower seeds.
And, as Beannchor vowed to break the traditional bakery mould of doughnuts and iced fingers, Patisserie Mimi will sell more sophisticated sweet morsels – gateaux, pastries and macaroons in flavours like sea-salt caramel, rhubarb and strawberry, ivory chocolate and Tonka bean.
Bill Wolsey, managing director of Beannchor, which also owns the Merchant Hotel, Portaferry Hotel and around 50 pubs, said: "It is very exciting to be bringing the traditional bakery back in to Belfast but giving it a continental twist to offer the city something new and innovative."
And Petra Wolsey, marketing director at Beannchor, said the company hoped to one day supply hotels in the city with Mimi breads.
She added that they envisaged a chain of Mimi concessions in grocery stores.
Beannchor will also open the Dirty Onion, a pub and music venue in the Cathedral Quarter, this month. There will be a free-range rotisserie chicken restaurant, Yard Bird, in the same complex. The company said it had spent over £700,000 to open The National Grand Cafe Bar, which pulled its first pint in September, and Patiserrie Mimi.
Beannchor's expansion in the Cathedral Quarter is one of many changes going on in the area. Nick's Warehouse was recently converted in to The Harp Bar, while chef Niall McKenna opened a new restaurant Hadskis on the site of Printers in Donegall Street.
Emma Bricknell, of Made in Belfast, will also open a chicken restaurant, Le Coop, in the area.