Food critic Jay Rayner licking his lips about Belfast restaurants
A renowned food critic who mauled a popular Belfast restaurant two years ago has had his taste buds tickled after a return visit to the city.
In 2011 Jay Rayner famously lambasted Made In Belfast, which made a joke out of his review to promote its St Patrick's Day menu earlier this year.
But the novelist and food expert said in his Observer column yesterday that with its plethora of restaurants, Belfast is now "firmly geared up for the visiting gourmand".
Mr Rayner visited Northern Ireland for three days last month for the Belfast Book Festival and ate at Mourne Seafood in Bank Street, Coppi in St Anne's Square and Ox in Oxford Street, among others.
He said Mourne Seafood served him "pristine rock oysters" and "the kind of hefty seafood chowder that makes you wish it was colder outside".
Meanwhile, Coppi had a "stonking duck pasta dish" that was "deep and outrageous and completely unfinishable".
"Naturally I finished it," he added.
Mr Rayner said "Ox simply wants to be best in class and then some".
He added: "It wants to celebrate the best ingredients on its doorstep, and do it with unstudied professionalism. On those terms it has more than achieved its goals. It does not need to show off. Ox knows it's the most interesting thing to happen to Belfast in a long while. And the city seems grateful for it."
On Sunday morning he posted a link to his review of the eateries on Twitter, singling out Ox for praise.
"This week's review: a Belfast special, including the rather impressive Ox," he wrote.