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Lunch isn't for wimps: Neill's Hill, Brasserie, Ballyhackamore, Belfast


Neill's Hill, Brasserie, Ballyhackamore, Belfast

Neill's Hill, Brasserie, Ballyhackamore, Belfast

Neill's Hill, Brasserie, Ballyhackamore, Belfast

Constant innovation and flexibility in the face of a changing marketplace is the mantra of many a successful business and Neill's Hill Brasserie is no different.

Situated in what locals would have you believe is the Greenwich village of east Belfast, this cafe-stroke-brasserie is ticking a lot of boxes when it comes to appealing to a wider audience. That's not to say there was anything wrong with its predecessor Alden's, a fine eating establishment which won many admirers, just that Neill's Hill is more accessible and meets the needs of the "sure we'll just pop in for a bowl of soup" moment as well as those times you want a serious sit down three-course quality meal.

In these days of austerity, the canny restaurant owner knows that many of those who'd previously been in the latter camp have now fallen into the former and while their bills might not be as large, they still need to eat.

And it seems to be paying off.

The timing of my visit wasn't exactly a traditional meal time, it being 3.30pm (3.45pm if you count my tardiness) on one of the wettest Fridays since Noah donned a pair of dungarees, signed up for some wood working classes and took to wearing a pencil behind the ear.

Expecting to see tumbleweed running through an empty between-service restaurant I was instead greeted with an establishment very much still in the throws of service with an atmosphere many would kill for on a Saturday night nevermind Friday afternoon.

Contributing to much of the noise was the lunching ladies but there were plenty of people who were enjoying a late lunch like us also.

My 'cheeky beef' - beef cheeks to you and me - was a taste sensation and will go down as one of the most tender pieces of beef I've ever had.

My fellow diner's steak looked equally as good and both followed a starter of scallops which were cooked to perfection and not long out of the briny depths.

All in all a great dining experience and one which I'll be repeating as soon as possible.