Ex-Gordon Ramsay chef opens Belfast tapas restaurant
A top chef who has worked with Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes and ran the kitchen on board a Russian billionaire's Mediterranean yacht is bringing some sunshine to Belfast with the opening of a new 58-seater tapas restaurant.
Jonny Elliott has opened Edo (pronounced Aye-doh) - which is Latin for 'I eat' - on Upper Queen Street, Belfast, employing 11 staff.
The former Balloo House and Howard Street chef, and his partner Antonia Koemdzhieva, opened the restaurant without fuss to allow them to 'fine-tune' the service before a promotional drive.
"I've worked all over Europe and in London with Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes, which was very stressful. That was long hours and a lot of hard graft so I wanted to go back to the place where I really loved to cook," Mr Elliott said.
And that place was on board a yacht belonging to a Russian businessman who travelled the coasts of Italy, Spain, Turkey, Tunisia and Sardinia.
"I would go ashore to the markets and pick up the freshest stuff around the Mediterranean and I wanted to bring that to Belfast. It doesn't matter that we don't have the climate, we can still enjoy the food and the freedom of tapas dining," he said.
The theme at Edo is a 'feeding and sharing style serve' amid 'cosy surroundings'.
"But we also allow for those who are used to traditional services to order their food and have it served as a starter and main," Mr Elliott explained. Edo is just one of a handful of restaurants in Ireland to use a Bertha oven, which allows chefs to cook with apple and pear wood to give dishes a distinctive flavour.
"It gives a unique, earthy smokiness flavour to the meat," Mr Elliott said.
He said weekend trade is busy but Tuesdays and Wednesdays are proving to be a challenge.
"There's a bus shelter out the front of the restaurant so the buses can block us in and that means many people don't see us," he said. "We are getting a sign to allow people to know we're there and word of mouth so far has been great." Mr Elliott will be looking for more front of house staff, a manager and a supervisor, as well as a barman, as business grows.
Edo is just one in a string of new restaurants popping up in NI ahead of the festive foodie season. Michael Fletcher and Michael O'Connor of The Barking Dog are one step closer to opening their second Belfast establishment at the revamped Weaving Works on Ormeau Avenue as applications reveal they have applied for a liquor licence.
And food fans are gearing up for the launch of Michelin-starred chef Danni Barry and Stevie and Cristina Higginson's Clenaghan's Restaurant in Aghalee , Co Antrim, next month.