If the reports on climate change are to be believed, then the world is ending and we are all going to die. As this is the imminent case, my noble suggestion is that you must simply cash in all your savings and head over to Belfast to drink delicious cocktails, gin, whisky and wine and take large, succulent bites into Europe’s latest food renaissance capital, Northern Ireland.
If you think I am exaggerating, then all you have to do is take a read of all the hot travel and food publications that are raving about Belfast’s food and drinks scene. It’s all the rage, the hot “… new spot to be,” in nouveau demand. That said, the snobbish elements of foodie reviews and opinions should not put anyone off. Belfast totally lacks this. There is deep warmth, youthfulness, artistic expression and fun bold and ever present irreverence. This is essentially everything that and that has one fall in love with Belfast and this is reflected in the plates and in the experience. There is a genuine sense of adventure in Belfast’s menus and the locally sourced ingredient dishes are perfectly paired with locally produced ales, stouts, ciders and stouts. So do not fret, there is no snoberry. Just great food, great people, great vibes.
And it should come as no surprise as Northern Ireland is a large food-producing region and in the recent past, ice-cream makers, cider makers, charcuterie makers, gin makers have all appeared with a new-found confidence in producing high-quality local ingredients and cuisine.
The aesthetic richness of Belfast has design boundaries that exist only to be scoffed at. The petri dish that is exposed red brick intersects alongside spray painted graffiti, delicate floral decor and arrangements that drape the walls and ceilings of its markets, bars and restaurants. A petri dish of eclectic and endlessly inventive combinations of ancient brick with new youthful aesthetic preferences in design and decor.
This makes Belfast an interesting and excellent space to spend a beautiful and lazy weekend walking around in. In between the drinks and bites take walks through its streets filled with the red, exposed brick of buildings that are hundreds of years old but that are now spray painted with artistic resistance art. Move through streets dotted with beautiful old churches – complete with ringing church bells and supportive flags of all kinds of political and social spectrums. And walk into ancient streets, markets and restaurants and bars draped with gorgeous florals and fairy lights.
So what is my recommendation for a weekend in Belfast?
- Start your morning at St George Market and sample lots to eat and drink from the vendors selling food, clothes and artisanal products. Or have breakfast at St George’s Market Grill and Bar that has great food and amazingly delicious cocktails
2. Walk! Walk a lot! To the beautiful Cathedral Quarter, check out the sculpture of the Salmon of Knowledge and the Beacon of Hope
3. Cross over to McHughs (Belfast’s Oldest Building) for an ale, cider or Guinness
4. Walk over to the cosy and little Bittles Bar, built in 1868 in the shape of an iron. Have a shot of their best gin (ask the amazing and hilarious bar folks to recommend the best Irish or Scottish one for the day)
5. Stop at Mourne for lunch, an all red brick and dark wood restaurant with old oil lamps dangling from the ceiling and home to Belfast’s best seafood!
6. Walk to the Titanic Quarter and get to see the building site for the Titanic, this quarter is also an architectural marvel in many ways
7. End your night for dinner at the Cabaret Supper Club, Belfast’s longest running luxurious supper club. Feel like a star and experience an evening reminiscent of the 1920’s Hollywood. Enjoy live jazz, burlesque, contortionists, magicians, comedians, bands, even famous local artists, while you enjoy a sumptuous meal served by your own Cabaret Butler
8. Take your last drink at The Perch Rooftop Bar, earnestly the most beautiful bar I have ever been in and home to Belfast’s best cocktails!
- Start your morning at Harlem, Belfast’s best brunch spot that is nestled next to the famous Ulster Hall and that is filled with eclectic, beautiful art. Walk through the historical streets of Shankill Road, Falls Road, Crumlin Road and Loyalist Road (but do be sensitive and considerate of its history which is deeply felt by people in Belfast to date) so exercise due discretion and common sense with partisan commentary.
2. Have lunch at Yugo a beautiful vegan restaurant with delicious wine, food and desserts or if this is not up your alley drop by Havana a gorgeous bistro with delicious comfort food and great cocktails. If you are lucky, when you walk out of Havana, you might meet the amazing Sean McKernan, who has been taking historical pictures of Belfast for over 35 years and you can get yourself some prints for 20 pounds each!
3. Book a Wee Toast tour and get on a beer barrel cycle contraption that takes you round Belfast. Carry your drinks and food while on it and party away!
4. Have dinner at Ox, one of Belfast’s Michelin starred restaurants and spoil yourself to a majestic experience of great food and wine pairings for a 6 course, surprise menu meal! It will set you back about 96 pounds but it is totally worth it!
5. Starting off pea, foie gras, verbena, gougere, coolatin cheddar & beer. A little loaf of sliced sourdough bread & cuinneog butter.
6. Each plate came with a glass of wine, the next dish, a scallop in bisque with fennel pollen and lemongrass was served with a super fresh wine that was filled with hints of sweet – the Chardonnay 2016 Altkirch
7. The tomato ballylisk, with broad bean and onion galette was next. It was such a pretty, pretty dish! Served with Rose 2017 Sebestyen.
8. Followed by a monkfish dressed in squid ink, lardo and burnt lemon that tasted super earthy and homely. Served with a Petritis 2017 Xynisteri
9. The first red wine of the night was the Gran Pasas 2017 Monastrelli to accompany the Cote De Boeuf, with carrot, sesame, chard and girolles
10. The meal ends on a sweet and perfect note with three deserts that are served with a Maury, Grenat Lafage that is thick, comforting and syrupy to drink. Strawberry, Sorrel, Lime & Vanilla (palate cleanser) Chocolate opera, cherry and thyme Salted caramel, chocolate whiskey and passion fruit
11. End the night at the Jailhouse if cocktails and ale is your thing (a trendy hipster spot in the historic The Entries Streets) or have an amazing whisky experience at The Rusty Saddle.
CARRY AN UMBRELLA AND RAINCOAT AND RAIN FRIENDLY SHOES!!!! (I had to capitalize and emphasize this) it rains a lot!
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