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James Neilly's latest takeaway creation in Carryduff car park shows ingenuity as well as skill

James Neilly has more problems than most and his latest takeaway creation in a converted freight container shows his ingenuity as well as culinary skills

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James Neilly

James Neilly

James Neilly's  latest takeaway creation

James Neilly's latest takeaway creation

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James Neilly

James Neilly is the chef with nine lives. I first met him in Armagh years ago when he was setting up a new restaurant, the Rokeby, beside the old court house. He had just completed an eight-year run with Paul Rankin's Cayenne and was very excited about using fresh produce from the restaurant owners' farm just a few miles up the Portadown Road. But a few weeks later when I went to review it, the whole thing was gone.

A short while later, up pops James in Belfast's Potted Hen, the first restaurant to open in the new St Anne's Square but after a couple of years it crashed too. Not to be discouraged, James did a career body swerve, dropped the toque and whites and opened a funky new pizza parlour in Castle Street.

Pizza Boutique would quickly establish an enviable reputation, and the offer of keto-diet friendly pizzas and pizzas with middle eastern leanings served in a restaurant with some of the wildest wall art in Belfast worked wonders. Until Primark across the street went on fire. This caused the closure of restaurants, including Pizza Boutique, caught within the hastily mounted safety no-go fencing in the city centre choking all retail activity for 18 months.


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