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Restaurant review: Food great but Belfast takeaways didn’t deliver on new rules

Two of the three takeaways had no measures in place to ensure their customers observed the government's strict social distancing parameters

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Cafe Fish on Belfast’s Lisburn Road

Cafe Fish on Belfast’s Lisburn Road

Cafe Fish on Belfast’s Lisburn Road

I love takeaways as much as the next person. The luxury of using your own crockery and cutlery, the anticipation of that doorbell ring, the setting out of the tray with warm plates to transport the tubs of food to the living room for some telly dining and the zero faff other than a frantic search for a couple of quid to give the delivery driver, I love all the ceremony of it.

And then there's the food. I have nailed the best takeaways in our area of south east Belfast, those who do deliveries, those who are collection only, those who take card payments over the phone and so on.

Until the lockdown I firmly believed that millennials who eat takeaways every other day had a long term dream and desire of living in kitchenless houses and flats.

This is entirely based on my perception of them to have largely lost the interest to cook anything. I mean, they have a point. Nobody, other than a qualified and experienced chef, can make as good a burger, a chicken chow mein or a pizza marinara. At some of the prices of takeaways (although we'll come back to this), it makes little sense to cook your own dinner. Or so I thought.

I've now noticed from living at perilously close quarters with a 19-year-old and a 23-year-old, that, au contraire, they are loving their discovery of things like the cooker, the oven, the grill, the kettle, saucepans and things to "cook" which live in the fridge behind the white wine and lagers.

In recent days we've had appetising chicken dishes, oven roast vegetable meals, pasta bakes and some very good seafood and fish.

I rejoice at the return of potatoes to our house - the adviser and I had almost stopped bringing the spuds home, opting instead for high protein low carb dinners instead.

But for all the family's new culinary interest, last week our house nevertheless had three nights of takeaways including pizza, fish and chips and Chinese. The Chinese was delivered to the door, the fish and chips and pizza collected.

Sad to say that not all transactions were conducted within the strict new social distancing parameters and I'm staggered that when collecting, some businesses have yet to mark out two metre distance lines or when delivering have not considered simple new rules like not making contact and just dropping the food off on the doorstep.

As a supporter of takeaways in the very sorrowful absence of restaurants, I've been banging on about how much they need our business. But frankly, most of them need to wise up and get real when it comes to behaving responsibly.

At Pizza Boutique lip service was paid to social distancing and nothing was in place to keep customers in their right place.

I mentioned this but because they were so busy and it was such an early part of the campaign which is only now gaining traction, there was little they could do.

At Cafe Fish, no measures had been taken whatsoever to demarcate special or distancing requirements. I asked them about this suggesting they might adopt the same principles as deployed by chemists. Again, it was probably too early. Although a few days later I noticed no difference.

The Golden Harvest driver dropping off the Chinese on the other hand phoned ahead to say to leave the money on the doorstep and that he would position the bag of food in its place. By the time you are reading this, all takeaways I've spoken to have vowed to put in place floor signs and other measures. One has even said they'll only do deliveries and not allow anyone in.

This is the way forward for anybody in this business including off licences by the way.

And by the way, the pizzas were uniformly brilliant, the fish suppers and chicken bite meals as good as ever and the Chinese as exciting as it always is. More from the frontline next week.

The bill

Pizza Boutique margarita £8.50

  • Pizza Boutique, Saintfield Road, Belfast. tel: 028 9508 8924

Café Fish cod supper £7.50

  • Café Fish, Lisburn Road, Belfast, tel: 028 9066 4731

Golden Harvest Meal for one £8.50

  • Golden Harvest, Ormeau Road, Belfast, tel: 028 9508 9227

Belfast Telegraph