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Grub Spy: Sugar Rays packs a punch with its massive portions

Sugar Rays Smokehouse, Old Dundonald Road, Belfast.

By Tara O'Dornan

When I think of an American diner I'm thinking real indulgence and rich, tasty flavours that should be a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds.

And with a clever name like Sugar Rays, I was hoping this joint would live up to its name.

My husband and I had a rare night out away from our young family and kept it low key and old school with a bite to eat before catching a movie at the flicks.

I suspect Sugar Rays owes much of its custom to cinema-going punters and there was a queue of people lining up trying to get a table.

You can't book unless it's for a large party of people, and I'm not normally one for queuing, but the friendly waitress made a point of greeting everyone in the queue quickly, gave us a copy of the extensive menu to ponder, told us it would be around 10 to 15 minutes and, sure enough, we had a table in no time and already knew what we wanted.

The fact that people were lining up here and not at any of the other restaurants in the complex on the night of our visit was already a good sign, but the choice of food on the menu was a further reason to be optimistic.

From ribs and chicken strips, to brisket and pulled pork, to burgers and stacks - it was a mouthwatering selection and made me think this would be the perfect place for a party.

We anticipated that this would be the kind of place to give you generous American style portions (we would be proven right), so we skipped starters and went straight to the mains.

I enjoy hot and spicy food so I went for 'The Bronco' - a chicken burger topped with crispy bacon, smoked Applewood cheese, jalapenos, spicy tobacco onions and hot sriracha mayo. The juicy chicken was delicious and the combination of bacon with cheese followed by the heat from the pepper and onion had a right hook that Sugar Ray Robinson would have been proud of.

My husband was unusually conservative with his choice, but just fancied keeping it simple with an 'American' - a beef burger topped with crisp bacon, double cheese melt, American mustard and ketchup. He said it was a man-sized meat feast that was every bit the classic burger he was in the mood for.

Both burgers came with toasted buns and French fries and if you have the stomach for it for two quid more you can go 12oz instead of the 6oz we enjoyed.

For dessert we plumped for the Chocolate Orange cheesecake served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce which was deliciously sweet, sticky and moreish.

With huge helpings, an extensive menu that will offer something for everyone plus specials and offers (the beer buckets would be great for parties), Sugar Rays is the king of the ring when it comes to knockout food.

The food

6oz American beef burger £10.99

6oz Bronco chicken burger £10.99

Chocolate Orange

cheesecake £4.99

Bottle of Budweiser £3.50

2 x large glass of Sauvignon Blanc £10.50

TOTAL: £40.97

The ratings

Food 4/5

Service 4/5

Decor 4/5

Vegetarian 2/5

Value for money 3/5

Sugar Rays Smokehouse

Eastpoint Entertainment Village, Old Dundonald Road, Belfast

Tel: (028) 90480447

www.sugarrayssmokehouse.com

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