Sunday, May 26, 2013

Review : Mourne Seafood Bar, Belfast

Sometimes you get a feeling about a place before you've even sat down and looked at a menu.  Often, it's a "oh lord, I'm not liking the look of this place and everybody seems miserable and oh, what have I done".  And then there's the Mourne Seafood Bar in Belfast.  Tucked away on a very innocuous side street mere steps away from Castle Street and Royal Avenue, this restaurant appears remarkably unprepossessing from the outside.  Inside is entirely a different story.  You enter through a single doorway into what appears to be a fish shop, with empty, briny scented tanks to your left.  Another door takes you into a dining room, packed with happy customers but the journey isn't over.  There's more to see upstairs.  We were very lucky to get a little table just opposite the kitchen so we could see what everybody was ordering before we made our own decision. 

I'm very fond of having a sneaky peek of everybody else's meal to see if it appeals to me or not, and The Hubs is no different.  But first, a cocktail to begin the evening.  The cocktail special was a Raspberry Lemon Drop : Absolut Citron, Cointreau, Chambord and Lemon Juice served in a classic martini glass with a lemon twist.  It contained many of my favourite things and reinvigorated me for a browse through the menu. We decided that I would choose the starter and The Hubs could have first pick for dessert.  When I say we, I mean me and basically because I saw the Langoustines and had to have them. 

But first, something to drink now that the Raspberry Lemon Drop had vanished with unseemly speed.  Belfast Lager for the Hubs and a glass of Chilean Corinto Sauvignon Blanc for me.  As I'm the only wine drinker, I tend to order by the glass or half bottle and this one was rather nice.  The langoustines arrived, piled high on a platter with lemon wedges and mayonnaise for dipping.  I promptly stole the biggest one of all and started cracking shells.  They were perfectly cooked and didn't even need the mayonnaise.

Now, when you're in a fish restaurant, what do you order for your main course?  Well, if you're The Hubs, it's steak.  I was morto with the embarrassment when the menu was full of such gorgeous fish.  However, it was a fine ribeye, perfectly cooked to medium rare with incredible chips.  I may have stolen half of them over the course of my meal.  I had the fish special which was Brill with a deliciously fresh assortment of vegetables and a butter sauce. 

Dessert time.  I was feeling pretty full at this stage and had initially decided to share one with The Hubs, but our platewatching resulted in one each.  An Apple Crumble and a Pannacotta.  These were the desserts of the decade.  I have no idea who is the pastry chef in the kitchen, but they deserve accolades and recognition.  Crumble is usually a pretty poor dessert in most restaurants but this was exceptional.  The crumble topping was light and crunchy with a layer of poached apples beneath.  We fought to the death over who got the last spoonful.  It was the same story with the Pannacotta which came with a compote of winter fruits and a lovely light shortbread biscuit.

The bill came to £71 excluding service.  Worth every last penny. 

Mourne Seafood Bar, 34-36 Bank Street, Belfast BT1 1HL
Tel : +44 28 9024 8544


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