Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dinner at The Bar+Grill, Belfast

It's easier to win the Lotto than to get a table at The Bar+Grill at James Street South on a Saturday night.  This was our third attempt - I booked a few weeks in advance and all I could get was 7pm.  I wasn't arguing because I was dying to eat there.  It's in on a very quiet street but two minutes walk from everywhere so you can totter back to your hotel without feeling as if you've run the marathon.  The building itself is very handsome with lots of exposed brick.  There's long banquettes in the centre of the room for couples or very loud braying groups like the one behind us (who bitched incessantly about the poor person who went to the loo - we heard you) and tables for 4-6 at the windows.

Once seated, I was immediately handed the good stuff - the cocktail list.  I had a quick look but the only thing I wanted to drink was the Peartree : Pear Vodka, Elderflower, Sugar & Lime, shaken over ice and presented in my nemesis, a martini glass.  I am clumsy as a rule and when you combine this with a martini glass, you can be assured there is always spillage.  Not this time.  I warned The Hubs that there would be no social niceties such as chinking glasses and saying "cheers".  Both of my dainty little hands would remain wrapped around the glass for stability.  The cocktail was delicious by the way.  The Hubs had a bottle of Peroni.

Pork Rilettes

We decided to share a starter because we knew portions were substantial and opted for the Pork Rilettes.  Piggy heaven with shards of beautiful pork, a generous slice of toasted bread with a pat of melting butter for added unctuousness, sharp crunchy piccalilli and some leaves made up one of the nicest starters I've had in a while.  You didn't actually need the butter but it added so much to the end flavour.  Delicious.

Ribeye and Smoked Bacon Chop

I had already informed The Hubs that I was having steak (they have a Josper grill and I was curious) so he decided to order the smoked bacon chop.  My medium rare Ribeye came with a little jug of wonderfully hot horseradish cream and Truffle Fries with Parmesan.  It looked fantastic until I cut into the steak - well done. Our very lovely server fixed the steak in the blink of an eye, apparently purloining somebody else's steak so I was only waiting a few minutes for a replacement. The smoked bacon chop was a thing of beauty : inch thick and succulent, covered in jus and served with mashed potato, to which The Hubs added chips.  Salad was, apparently, unnecessary when faced with all that meat.

Truffle Fries with Parmesan and a steak close-up

The Truffle Fries with Parmesan were earthy, crunchy and very savoury, and they stayed hot, which is a rarity.  I might have forgotten to share them but the Hubs managed to snag his fair share of my steak, as did I of his bacon chop.  He stuck to Peroni while I started with a glass of Chateau Recougne, which was nice but a little warm.  I then switched to Riesling which isn't the perfect match for steak, but I like it, so who cares!

Dessert : White Chocolate Crème Brûlée

At this stage I was absolutely full but The Hubs wanted dessert so he chose the White Chocolate Crème Brûlée .  Had I been in control, I would have opted for the Baked Alaska but he caught me off guard.  I'm not a white chocolate fan, preferring the dark stuff but this was a very fine Crème Brûlée indeed.  The top was caramelised and crunchy while the custard beneath was chilled, thick and actually tasted of white chocolate.  He had a cup of tea ( let's not mention the trauma when he went to make tea in our hotel room and there was NO MILK... the drama of it all!) and I had a good espresso. 

The Damage

The one thing that really stood out for me about The Bar+Grill was the staff.  They were absolutely brilliant at their job, never intrusive but always alert and genuinely friendly and pleasant.  They should be cloned and put into every restaurant in the country.  They clearly enjoy their job and it shows.  Bravo.

So, if you're thinking of heading to Belfast, book this restaurant as far in advance as you can.  It's worth it.


  1. The plating is smashing - I'll give them that. I have to say that the ribeye is mouth-watering though.

  2. I agree - one of the nicest meals we've ever had in Belfast. Looking forward to a return visit!