The Lock Keeper’s Inn has been making headlines thanks to the Iris Robinson affair – but just what does the food taste like? Top chef Andy Rea went along to try out the menu
The Lock Keeper’s Inn on Shaw’s Bridge is probably one of the most difficult places to get to, yet out of all the cafes and restaurants in Belfast it has undoubtedly been the busiest over the last few weeks.
Shaw’s Bridge is one of my favourite locations for a cycle ride. You can travel from Stranmillis to Lisburn and back without seeing or hearing a car and the only place to take a break is the Lock Keeper’s Inn.
I’ve been to the cafe before and it has been hit and miss, but on this cold January morning I stroll up to the entrance armed with several Iris jokes on my phone, ready to have a bit of banter with the staff.
But as soon as I walk through the doors I am greeted by big ear-to-ear smiles from the staff who are chatty and friendly and immediately I am drawn in to having a good experience
The morning menu reads like most other cafes.
Bagels, scones, scrambled eggs and pancakes and from noon onwards there are wholesome choices such as Irish stew, cottage pie, paninis and baked potatoes.
I commit the cardinal sin of every chef and order something not on the menu, but it’s no problem for the server.
I order a hearty breakfast of sausage, bacon, potato bread, soda bread and eggs.
Unfortunately there’s no potato or soda bread, so I opt for a toasted bagel instead.
When asked how I would like my eggs, I giggle and reply “over-easy!”
To drink, an Americano and freshly-squeezed orange juice, but they don’t have the latter, just pre-packed juices.
While waiting for my brekkie the cafe is buzzing with yummie mummies from BT9 who are out in their tracksuits and walking shoes, but ironically with full slap of make-up on and groomed hair, perhaps for a flirt with Kirk, but sadly he’s nowhere to be seen.
The 32-seat cafe has a nice warm vibe, high ceilings, slate floor, wafting aromas of bacon and stunning views of the countryside.
The food, when it arrives, is actually pretty decent.
Excellent cooked eggs, great quality bacon, the sausages are artisan with herbs and spices and the bagel is really light and fresh.
The quality of the coffee is excellent too, and on leaving I order another to takeaway for the walk back.
The cafe caters well for those walking, with a great range of takeaway items and indulgent brownies, muffins and cakes.
Overall the cafe does deliver, but it’s not cutting edge and the food isn’t going to blow you away it does what it says on the tin!
However, I suspect many of the customers are not here for the food.
Andy Rea is head chef of the Mourne Seafood Bar in Belfast