Restaurant review: Lindores has so much more than breakfasts on offer
9 Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast Tel: 028 9065 0338
Lindores has so much more than breakfasts on offer, but when they're as good as their's are, it really is the perfect place to start.
East Belfast has become something of an incubator for budding restaurateurs. All the new stuff is happening along the Newtownards Road at Ballyhackamore and nearby Strandtown. In the last four years, we've seen the blossoming of Neill's Hill, Graze, Il Pirata, Acapulco, Bistro Este and, more recently, the excellent General Merchants. A little closer to town away from the Ballyhack cluster, but still on the road is Lindores Coffee House.
Named after an ancient Scottish abbey, Lindores' Ulster-Scots credentials seem impeccable. It features the pre-hipster preference for stripped pine, cosy fireplaces and the intimacy of your maiden aunt's front parlour.
It's not trendy, but it's bursting with charm and comfort. The sense of stability this old-fashioned environment provides is just right when you're at a loose end waiting for your car to be handwashed in the yard next door.
Once you get past the mild irritation that breakfast is served, but only after it opens at 9am (who has time for breakfast at this hour unless you're retired, on a sicky, or holidays? Answer: loads of people), you will soon settle into the calming interior and enjoy a good read of Lindores' menu.
Breakfast is a serious business here. There's a mini-fry, an Ulster fry, Lindores fry and vegetarian fry, choice of eggs and toast, French toast, pancake stacks, bagel, filled croissant and omelettes.
To give you some context, the mini fry for £4 includes one Warwicks awards-winning jumbo sausage, one slice bacon, one egg, one slice of potato bread and one of soda bread.
But it's not all A&E. There's a "Superfood" menu of toast with cinnamon, peanut butter, banana and honey; porridge with cinnamon and peanut butter, raspberries, banana and honey, or tropical fruits; and then there's "Eggs royale" which involves a toasted muffin with salmon, poached egg and hollandaise sauce. Just how less life-threatening these are compared to the fries will be debated by the nutritionists.
The east is renowned for its innovation in industry (just look at the fantastic state-of-the-art engineering works that Harland & Wolff has become, or the successful Bombardier aircraft manufacturer and the clatter of IT firms down on Queen's Island), so it's no surprise that the Newtownards Road is, thanks to Lindores' culinary invention, home of the breakfast burger.
The breakfast burger is what an egg McMuffin would look and taste like if it was made by artisans using fire, griddles and a bit of time. In the morning, when your tastebuds are at their most receptive, biting into a Lindores breakfast burger is one way of getting close to God.
The structure and content of this magnificent handful stands up to the severest of aesthetic and culinary scrutiny. The golden globe of the top brioche bun crowns an interior multi-storey at the base of which is a sausage meat pattie. I'm guessing this is also a Warwicks product as it has the great depth of quality pork with plenty of savoury charge.
A fried egg, some bacon and just enough rocket and avocado on the side complete the all-in-one breakfast.
Even if the coffee is excellent, Lindores isn't just for breakfast. It's an upmarket venue whose lunch menu has just as much appeal. Bagel stack with chicken, pesto, brie and dried tomatoes. Chicken Caesar with home baked bread, soup, sandwiches, paninis and baguettes are very street foody, but according to trusted assessors, good.
The place seems to be largely frequented by shoppers. Considering that there aren't any shops nearby other than convenience stores, footfall can't be stampede-like. It's an indicator that it is becoming a destination in its own right. That it survives at all is down to how it gets the whole package so right.
People will travel for a bit of quality and if you can get that for some loose change then the future looks good for Lindores.
What's Ulster-Scots for 'breakfast burger', by the way?
Breakfast burger £7.50
Cappuccino (reg) £2.20