Sometimes, a restaurant is worth a second visit. Even though it's in a city with loads of brand new, look at me our food is amazing, restaurants that appear on every list of recommendations. Molly's Yard is that restaurant. It's nowhere near the usual suspects, tucked away in a corner beside Queen's University in the heart of studentland, but it's somewhere you should plan to visit. Why? They've inventive, delicious food and a love of all things gin. Sometimes they combine the two for sold-out gin tasting menu events which are much sought after. Lucky people of Belfast.
We started our dinner sitting at a cosy table upstairs with some gin. Himself had a pint of local craft beer Hilden and I had a Shortcross G&T made with Thomas Henry tonic water, one I've only ever seen in Germany. A slice of juicy orange added a completely new flavour element to my usual favourite.
Potted goat with orange & cranberry compote and crispy toasts (£7.95). Truthfully, there wasn't enough toast - a whole loaf couldn't cope with the earthy potted loveliness. The silky layer of butter on top added rich luxuriousness when spread on the thin crisp toast. The compote added a sweet note and it was my perfect starter. I shared precisely one quarter of a slice of toast as it was far too good to share. Himself had Molly's stout braised flank of beef, with carrot jam and horseradish aioli (£7.95). It was small but very rich - two pieces of beef flank with a quenelle of sweet carrot jam and dots of garlicky aioli. Delicious, but I won the starters.
My Hazelnut crusted Brill with mushroom, truffle & spinach cannelloni hazelnut crust (£17.95) was outstanding. The brill was perfectly cooked and the toasted hazelnut crust added great texture. The cannelloni was very light and the pool of tarragon veloute brought the two together impeccably. Himself had the Co. Fermanagh chicken supreme stuffed with local black pudding & spinach with blue cheese gnocchi and pancetta (£14.95). Crisp skin gave way to juicy, tender chicken with a salty, earthy black pudding stuffing. Shards of pancetta added porky loveliness as did a velvety charred leek veloute. Farmyard perfection. My brill was better though.
In the interests of being greedy, we also ordered side dishes : burnished amber sweet potato wedges, spicy red cabbage and chargrilled butternut squash fondants (£3.20). This is how vegetables should look. No limp broccoli and sad carrots here. Take note, lots of other restaurants.
After a very long interval, we ordered dessert intending to share a brownie with Molly's Chocolate Stout icecream and a rhubarb and ginger sundae with cherry biscotti (both £5.50). Truth be told, we started chatting to a mother and son couple beside us and our desserts melted. However, the icecream was spectacular and the biscotti were crisp and delicious. I was encouraged by J to try the Edinburgh Gin Co's Rhubarb and Ginger liqueur which turned out to be alcoholic sweetie heaven. It was a great find and one I'd love for the ever-expanding drinks cabinet.
The only lowlight was the wine. As I was drinking wine alone, I was limited to wines by the glass or carafe. As I'm not a fan of Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, I ended up with their Chilean Corinto Sauvignon Blanc (£10.50 for 1/2 carafe). It was a little too thin and acidic for my palate, although some judicious chilling improved it a lot.
One thing which is evident in Molly's Yard is a love of great food. The staff know the menu inside out and can offer recommendations if you're a bit dithery. The service is also incredibly warm and friendly (even the manager, despite the grumpy face!). Make the detour away from the bright lights. You won't be sorry.
1 College Green Mews
Belfast BT7 1LW
+44 28 9032 2600
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