Belfast Telegraph

Finegan & Son in Newry

Restaurant review: Finegan & Son in Newry, refreshingly different fare that’s bordering on great 

Newry, the bustling frontier town is all swagger, super-pubs and cross-border Euro-trade. It is the Tijuana of Ireland. Thanks to its position on the north-south axis between Belfast and Dublin it has levels of prosperity most towns across the rest of Ireland deeply envy. What's more, its progressive council is supportive of the arts which means that this is one place whose continuing regeneration is assured.

Cafe Naz, on Belfast's Ormeau Road

Restaurant Review: It's not just the curries that make Ormeau Road's Cafe Naz a hot ticket 

Lucky Rosettans. Rosetta, the district at the top of the Ormeau Road whose population of scaffolders, bathroom fitters and bookies has moved up to Carryduff making way for broadcasters, lawyers and management consultants, has been transformed into a bijou quartier of tasteful interiors, gravel paths and clipped lawns. The new Rosettans are time-poor. They can afford to eat out and drink but are so busy working and earning all the money, they barely get out at all.

Warm and spacious: the interior of Six By Nico

Restaurant Review: This six theme should prove a big hit with Belfast diners 

After months of relentless and merciless bombardment of the social media with a series of short, moody films featuring bearded men in deep concentration using tweezers to compose tiny dishes, a young parkour expert wearing a six-by-nico sweat-top leaping and cartwheeling in slo-mo from Giant's Causeway to Cathedral Quarter, and tantalising glimpses of chef Nico Simeone himself boarding a plane to Aldergrove, anyone paying attention to their Instagram and twitter feeds could not have failed to notice that the great man was preparing to transfer the magic of his Glasgow and Edinburgh restaurants to Belfast.

Top notch: Muddler's Club at Belfast’s Warehouse Lane

Restaurant Review: Wiping the slate clean at Belfast's Muddler's Club 

I've loved Muddler's Club since its inception three years ago. The woody, beardy, creakiness much loved by the hipsterati is coupled to a very real Belfast sense of fast-moving, finger-clicking urban knowhow. Somehow, it manages to be laid back and on fire at the same time. Your comfort and joy come first, this is evident, and front of house staff under the keen eye of manager Barry Fletcher will keep the bustle levels high, moving silently and gracefully around, smiling, serving, advising to make sure you are both comfortable and joyful at all times.

Home comforts: District Coffee delivers on food and service

Restaurant Review: Little wonder customers love this District of Belfast 

The jaws of Christmas provide a good time to look back and reflect on things. For me, this mostly means a reassessment of the restaurant scene in Ireland. Were the bad reviews of 2018 deserved? Were the good reviews merited? And just how hopeless are my predictions? As the singing hotelier Bill Wolsey reminded a live audience recently, I described a recently opened restaurant as a sure-fire success a couple of months before it closed down.

Attentive pupils: a lesson at Belfast Cookery School

Belfast Cookery School: Joris Minne puts culinary skills to the test under tutelage of top chef 

Review my own cooking? I don't need a full page to tell you I'm a hopeless cook. I have a couple of set pieces for family dinners, a firm grasp of the microwave functions and a sensitive if formal approach to setting the table; but my culinary talents are ultimately narrow, limited and unimpressive. The adviser on the other hand is an accomplished cook which makes domestic meal preparations all the more stressful for me.

The Barking Dog restaurant on Belfast’s Malone Road

Restaurant review: The Barking Dog 

Restaurant lifespans are measured in months, not years. Along with haulage, fashion and scented candle making, restaurants have the shortest life expectation of any start-up businesses. But those who do survive can look back to see how and why they got through the difficult first year and point to quality of service, food and atmosphere (as well as clever management of tight margins, rates, supplier payments, staff retention and an endless list of other risks and governance issues).

Plush: Edo's interior is warm and welcoming

Restaurant review: Edo - Jamon down to a little bit of Spain in the heart of Belfast 

The popularity of Spanish food can be measured by the vast numbers of food pictures posted by holidaymakers on social media. How many more paellas, tortillas, bowls of patatas bravas and gazpacho, tiny tapas of glistening anchovies, shards of burgundy-coloured Iberico ham, creme Catalan and churros beside pots of thick hot chocolate can we take? Loads more! It seems our appetite for these is never going to be sated.

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