Restaurant review: We take a bite from Goodness Rocks on the Saintfield Road
75 Saintfield Road, Belfast
This new eatery in Newtownbreda begs the question: if nutritious food can be as delicious as this, who needs a burger and chips?
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This we learned in chemistry classes. The same principle seems to apply to the food sector. The more bad food is available, the more fresh healthy stuff there seems to be.
Slims was not the first restaurant to carve out a market from the growing appetite for healthier eating. There had been health food shops for decades.
And that's where the problem lay. Given a choice of a juicy burger with chips, or a bag of oats, I went for the former each time. Life's too short to snack on fruit or alphalpha sprouts, seeds and nuts. Put them in the ring against those deep fried coated chicken buckets, double decker burgers and pizzas and they don't stand a chance when it comes to preference.
But Slims showed that there is a third way, a middle path between healthy and fabulously sinful. So they'll serve you a nice juicy burger with chips, a Thai red curry with sweet potato fries or a few other eyebrow raisers while also providing alternatives such as those grassy green juices beloved of gym goers and super salads.
Now Goodness Rocks, a new restaurant on Belfast's Saintfield Road with furniture tastefully made from rough timber, has opened its doors to those who are after more of this. The big thing with Goodness Rocks is its gluten-free offers. It may be just the age of me, but I know increasing numbers of people who are coeliac, gluten and dairy intolerant and a bit more limited in their food choices as a result of life time conditions.
The market is there and seems to be growing. The choice of Saintfield Road for such a well thought-out business appears odd at first. The four lane road outside is one of the main arterial roads in and out of Belfast. But there is a junction at Newtown Park where a sprinkling of quality independent shops in a little zone known as The Inns has provided a hub of ongoing commercial activity in the heart of this residential suburb for decades.
The arrival of Goodness Rocks is welcome because while the shops have kept up with the times and clearly trade very successfully this is an injection of new generation eating. I don't want to over egg this but the suburbs are not known for their spirit of adventure and the new restaurant injects just a little of this. What's more it provides the very thing this community needs: a place to sit down and meet.
The advisor and I took our chances on a bank holiday Monday morning to see if we could get brunch. The place is big enough that waiting times are minimal. It's bright and warm and even if that rough timber looks dangerously splintery, the furniture is comfortable.
Breakfast is served until 11 and you can run your eye along the blackboard past the yoghurt or porridge bowls with choice of: honey, protein powder (strawberry, banana or chocolate), berries or nuts and seeds (£2.90) until you get to the proper stuff. A full breakfast could include turkey or steak sausage, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, sweet potato hash brown, poached or scrambled eggs and choice of toasted bread (brown soda, sourdough or gluten-free granary) (£5.60).
There are loads more and children's breakfasts too as well as wraps, toasties and salads. We managed to wade our way through much of it and I couldn't fault it. Turkey sausages might not be bursting with as much flavour as porkies but they pack a bit of punch nonetheless. The bacon is good quality and thick cut and you can't really go wrong with porridge or yoghurt.
The gluten free buns and cakes will be a big attraction and the tea and coffee are decent quality.
The price is right and the mood is upbeat and this bit of Newtownbreda now has a bright day-time focal point (backed up by the recent arrival of a Domino's Pizza carry-out, the Emperor City and the Harmony Inn) where people can meet. It's key to the sense of community in an area which will embrace it. And anyway, when healthy, guilt-free food includes the likes of peanut butter and banana shakes, who needs a burger and chips?
Yoghurt, nuts and seeds. £2.90
Full breakfast. £5.60
Scrambled eggs, smoked salmon. £5.50