Michelin awards for Belfast restaurants Ox and Eipic at Deanes
Two Belfast restaurants brought Michelin stars back to Northern Ireland yesterday for the first time in five years.
Ox on Oxford Street and Eipic at Deanes on Howard Street were awarded one star each by the prestigious guide.
Deanes secured its first Michelin star when it opened in 1997, only to lose it five years ago. Since then there have been no Northern Irish restaurants on the list.
In recent years chefs and food critics have questioned the perceived snub of restaurants here.
But Michael Deane's new venture, Eipic, opened in 2014, has now helped to put the province back on the culinary map.
He said: "It is an absolute joy to be awarded a star so soon after opening our doors. It's no secret that my vision is for Eipic to be amongst the finest restaurants on these islands, and it is a fantastic reward to know that we have been delivering to such high expectations right from the outset.
"Head chef Danni Barry and the team have worked hard to produce an exceptional experience, and they are to be applauded."
Barry (29), who returned to Northern Ireland after years of working in England, said: "There are some exciting things happening in food in Belfast, and I'm thrilled to be a part of putting the city back on the Michelin map."
Mr Deane called the award great news for Belfast and said: "I wanted to bring the high-end market back to the city. Now the city has two stars, we are undoubtedly on the up. I'd like to offer my congratulations to Ox for their success as well."
Michelin star newcomer Ox was set up by friends Stephen Toman and Alain Kerloc'h in March 2013. At their restaurant, Stephen heads the kitchen while Alain leads the front of house team and develops the drinks menu.
Mr Kerloc'h said: "We're very proud. It's an amazing achievement for the team and we're very happy. We work hard and it's great to be recognised by the bible of our trade. Lots of people said we should get one, but you never expect it. Stevie (Toman) is in the kitchen every day, checking every dish that is coming out. I check every glass of wine poured and how the customer is treated. Consistency is key."
Mr Toman added: "Myself and the team are on cloud nine. We won't change what we're about."
Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill congratulated both restaurants and said: "These awards are recognition of hard work and dedication to the service industry and ultimately showing off the best that Belfast has to offer in fine dining."