Belfast Telegraph

Restaurant review: Edo, Belfast

Capital House, Upper Queen Street, Belfast. Tel: 028 9031 3054

By Joris Minne

What Belfast really needs is a Spanish restaurant. The city is brilliant at the good quality, mid-range, mid-price bistro and informal, casual dining thing, so you'd think a Spanish restaurant would be the perfect fit.

Years ago there was a tapas place in the Odyssey which wasn't bad but it disappeared and Belfast has remained a Spanish-free zone ever since. But now, Edo has opened and while its Spanish credentials may not be immediately evident (where are the tiles, the big leg of pig on the counter, the flamenco music or the vast paella pans?), the menu sort of confirms that it is, in fact, Espanol with some outside interference.

Edo looks like a very pleasant, mildly modern, city centre restaurant which could be French or German, Italian or Greek. It has the city centre, business district, Euro ambience and feel about it and the interior, awash in dark blue and comfortable club-like chairs, opens up to the entire kitchen. A lot of money has been spent on this place.

Two of us sit at a banquette and menus are brought. "Pawra Picker," the server says. We look at him puzzled. Is this a greeting?

"Have yez been here before?" he asks. "If not, the pawra picker dishes are small, like wee tapas."

Sure enough, I see the words "Para picar" at the top of the menu and beneath them a list of choices: padron peppers, olives, Marcona almonds, empanadillas and the like.

Now I get it. I ask the adviser whether or not I should tell him how to say it properly but she looks at me with the laser death ray and says: "If you want to be a pompous tube, go ahead." I say nothing.

Further along the menu the journey into the heart of Spain begins. Jamon Iberico, chorizo, ham croquetas, tortilla with black pudding and red pepper, paella (yay!) and sardines on toast (triple yay!), prawn, chorizo, lemon and garlic linguini, braised beef Mafalda and many more classics are all present and prices seem decent enough.

There's even a créme Catalan for those of a more independent disposition.

The croquetas are not quite as rich and creamy as expected but not bad nonetheless, the brittle breadcrumb casing slightly too strong and large rather than wrapping itself around the mash within.

The padron peppers have been dipped in a savoury breadcrumb-like mix which works well with the tangy green peppers, softened by the heat.

Calamares are outstanding, tender, crunchy and plentiful.

Ox tongue is a bit of a mouthful. Large, steak-sized and brutally bare, it is as tender as paté and full of salty flavour.

The crushed potatoes beneath are over-cooked and taste mildly stale but the additional patatas bravas are light, crispy and with just enough smokey paprika sauce to "brava" them up to a decent level of spiciness. That sauce is memorable, by the way.

Beef cheeks on roasted cauliflower are a winner.

Coming from the Bertha grill (they have been slow cooked and fall off the knife), they have an unexpected and intense smokiness. The adviser approves.

A brace of sardines on toasted sourdough is very good, the sardines, tangy and salty and very nicely charred. Between the sardines and the toasted hunk of bread is a thick layer of sweet tomato sauce.

This is too much and overpowers everything. Do what we did: order it without the sauce but with a side of patatas bravas.

Edo is a bit of an oddity. The first part of the menu reads like a Spaniard's classic, the mains is more mixy-matchy with beef cheeks here, and roast salmon there, ribeyes and sirloins and what looks like a list of things the team likes to cook at the price of losing a sense of identity. I'm not entirely sure if this is a Spanish restaurant but what's on offer is very good. Once the place settles down a bit and decides what it wants to be when it grows up (hopefully through and through Spanish), then it promises to be a big hit.

The wines are a nice surprise with all sorts of excitement from Portugal, Spain, France and Argentina. They're from Direct Wine Shipments and therefore well priced and good quality.

Give it a shot at lunchtime: they're quick on their feet and understand that most people have to get back to work.

The bill

Peppers..................................................£5

Olives.................................................... £3

Croquetas..............................................£4

Calamari................................................£7

Sardines x 2........................................ £15

Patatas bravas.................................£3.50

Beef cheeks....................................£13.50

Ox tongue..............................................£8

Créme Catalan......................................£5

Water.................................................£4.50

Total................................................£68.50

Belfast Telegraph

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