Belfast Telegraph

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.

Howard Street Restaurant in Belfast city centre

Restaurant review: Belfast's Howard Street Restaurant 

The mark of a good restaurant is something much more banal than brilliance, trend-setting design, or innovation. It's consistency. In a business where nothing is predictable and where so many variables can affect a day's work - staff being off at short notice, suppliers not coming through with the right orders, unexpected visits by the health and safety people and a multitude of factors to do with heating, water, furniture, electricity, gas and occasionally unannounced royal visits, walk-ins by former paramilitaries and then photographers from the Belfast Telegraph to cap it all - it's a wonder we have restaurants with any reputation for consistency at all. And yet we do.

The Stillhouse on Main Street, Moira

Restaurant review: The Stillhouse of Moira: Co Down gastropub that is sure to get you in the spirit 

Only a week or two ago, I was giving off about the lack of pubs in this country which serve good food. Harry and Meghan's visit to Belfast and their lunch in the Crown Bar highlighted the demand for this kind of food experience. Then, lo and behold, I discover the Stillhouse of Moira (I have little to say about Moira and its fine citizenry other than it is as lovely a place as Hillsborough, ahem).

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