MADE IN BELFAST
1-2 Wellington Buildings, Wellington Street, Belfast, 0 28 9024 6712, madeinbelfastni.com €€ The original restaurant in what is becoming a bit of an empire for owner Emma Bricknell, Made in Belfast is a hop, skip and jump from City Hall and a world away from the bland bank buildings surrounding it.
This higgedly piggeldy restaurant with its mismatched furniture, pipes-as-walls and madcap art was doing the whole drinks in jam jars and mismatched crokery malarkey way back in 2008 when it opened, and even though this look is now ubiquitous, it manages not to look dated. Not that they’d care too much, as the focus here is firmly on the food.
The menu is split into bigs and smalls and benefits from Belfast’s lower food prices. Smalls start at £4.50 and include treats such as piggy fritters – pulled pork fritters with sourdough, piccalilli and tomato jam (£6.50) and an interesting seabass Caesar salad (£7.50).
All fish served here is sustainable, and the meat is local and free range or outdoor bred. Bigs start at a tenner for vegetarian dishes, including an organic briam, a rich Greek dish of baked aubergine, courgette, onion, potato, tomato, pepper and carrot with feta and some focaccia; they also do excellent steaks here – Irish Angus flatiron (£20) is served with large crispy prawns, greens, fries and a sinful chilli and bacon butter (which you will eat on its own with a spoon. For shame).
Desserts are £5.95 and vary in artery-clogging powers from sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and ice cream to a salted caramel and chocolate tart with bourbon cream. In a nice touch, all profits from the cheeseboard (£8) go to the Smile Foundation, a medical charity that works with kids with cleft palates.