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How our cocktails brought some cheer to a boring meal

Alexander's, 57 High Street, Holywood. Tel: 028 9042 3891

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Grub from Alexander's

Grub from Alexander's

Grub from Alexander's

The growing popularity of posh restaurant meals and dinner kits being delivered to your door (these are not just takeaways) indicates a thing or two about our food love. Whether you're a twice or three times a week restaurant-goer or a food lover who saves up for the day out in Ox, James Street, Muddler's Club or Eipic, the northern appetite for quality cooking is now fuelling a transformation of restaurants which chefs and owners never thought they would see, or at least, not so soon.

While the streets of London, Madrid and New York have been teeming with delivery riders taking high quality meals from Michelin-starred restaurants to high-end private addresses for years, it is not a service widely broadcast by the restaurateurs themselves.

Top flight restaurateurs don't want to be selling takeaways but they will bite their lip and agree to do so for favoured clients and those willing to pay top dollar.

But what they really want is to be restaurateurs with a lovely dining room full of chattering diners, beautiful table ware, hospitable and knowledgeable staff and making the act of eating and drinking delightful, sociable and aspirational.

Restaurateurs are showbiz people with pots and pans and a good eye for interiors. It doesn't matter if their operations are hugely expensive or neighbourhood bistro, they love being at the heart of their business conducting the joy all around them.

The arrival of Covid-19 and the lockdown is now persuading our own top restaurants to confront the horrible reality that takeaways may be the future, certainly for the short term. Which means that Michelin starred Eipic is now offering a five-course dinner for £50. This is historic.

Stock Kitchen will do you a three-course meal kit and have joined Hadskis, Noble, Home, Yugo, Balloo House, Freight and a growing list of restaurants (see the Belfast Telegraph website for a regularly updated register of new takeaways for delivery or collection) which have been at it for some weeks now.

The idea of bringing the magic of, say, Home into my own, er, home (the irony is almost unbearable) has its appeal. One of the great joys of entering a good restaurant is the mouth-watering odours and scents from the kitchen: to have these brought into your own house is a delightful moment with the outside world which we remember moist-eyed and nostalgic.

But what of those places I don't know? I've never been to Alexander's in Holywood but their website and app are so appealing and enticing I feel I get a sense for what the mood of the place is.

Chicken shawarma burgers, falafel sandwiches, fried halloumi, food truck crispy chicken and other exotic street food draws me even further in and then I see the cocktail list and am immediately struck by logistics anxiety.

If I order the food (pre-order, click and collect) will it be cold and rendered down while we enjoy the cocktails first? Or should we have the cocktails while we eat, or, god forbid, after dinner?

Cocktails during or after dinner would have been viewed as treasonous behaviour by my granda and other elderly relatives who remember protocols and etiquette. My grown-up daughters and the adviser suggest that the food needs to be protected from the ravages of travel and cool temperatures so cocktails with dinner it is.

I can't remember much other than the chips survived relatively intact and the hot wings were excellent but the burgers and crispy chicken were bland and the falafel frankly boring.

The mojitos and margaritas, however, were far from bland, well mixed, generous for the money and beautifully presented in old style 75cl glass jars (without ice so as not to be diluted).

I'll be back for click and collect cocktails.

The bill

Food truck crispy chicken £6.25

Falafel burger £6

Buffalo hot wings£4

Halloumi £4

Buttermilk chicken burger x2 £13.90

Garlic fries £5

Fries £5

Margarita (3 servings) £12

Raspberry mojito (3 servings) £12

Mojito (6 servings) £20

Strawberry mojito (6 servings) £20

Total £108.15

Belfast Telegraph