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Stormont restaurant for MLAs to reopen to public

By Noel McAdam

The Assembly is offering voters a pre-election treat - the chance to eat like an MLA.

The building's exclusive, silver service restaurant is opening to the public again, and for a much longer period this time.

This paper can reveal the Members' Dining Room will be open during the entire election campaign, from March 21 to May 5.

The restaurant proved a success when it was opened as an experiment last summer, with more than 1,000 people filling the 36-seat eatery to around 100% capacity.

The Assembly Commission said it was "delighted" to offer the experience for a second time.

"(We are) pleased to confirm that the Members' Dining Room will once again be open to the public for coffee, lunch and afternoon tea," a statement added.

"The Commission is delighted to offer this experience for a second time and would encourage even more people to visit and enjoy the wonderful locally-produced food in architecturally-rich surroundings.

"Parliament Buildings is a wonderful environment to work in and visit. This building belongs to the people of Northern Ireland and we are keen to share its history with as many people as we can."

The popularity of the oak-panelled surroundings overlooking the extensive Stormont lawns means booking is advisable.

Last time around, main courses were priced at about £9.50, with two courses on offer for £12 and a three-course banquet for £15.

Starters included summer leaf salad with buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil; smoked salmon risotto with poached salmon, mint and sweet peas; and ham hock terrine with apricot and ginger chutney.

Mains included grilled supreme of chicken with basil puree mash, chipotle butter, spinach and asparagus; tempura of hake with lemon and chilli orzo; and roast pork shoulder with bourguignon garnish and potato gratin.

Local produce also featured in desserts, with Glastry farm ice cream and summer fruits; raspberry and white chocolate truffle with Viennese biscuit; and strawberry and orange tart with cream Anglaise and vanilla ice-cream.

This time, morning tea and coffee will be served from 10am until 11.30am with a choice freshly baked scones served with jam and clotted cream or Danish and pain au chocolat pastries

Sebastien Mingout, support services manager in the Assembly said the opening last year had far exceeded expectations. "The restaurant was booked at 95% of its capacity at lunchtime - 1,100 covers - for the first six weeks of the summer recess," he added.

A report to the Commission recommended the restaurant be opened again when the Assembly is not sitting, so it should also be available come summer recess.

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