Tap­ping into the tapas trend in down­town Belfast

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY EMMA DEIGHAN

He’ s worked with gor­don ram say and on a bil­lion­aire’ s yacht, but jonny el­liot t’ s now of­fer­ing sun­shine on a plate with rest au ran te do in the heart of the city

A TOP chef who has worked with Gor­don Ram­say and Gary Rhodes and ran the kitchen on board a Rus­sian bil­lion­aire’s Mediter­ranean yacht is bring­ing some sun­shine to Belfast with the open­ing of a new 58-seater tapas restau­rant.

Jonny El­liott has opened Edo (pro­nounced Aye-doh) — which is Latin for ‘I eat’ — on Up­per Queen Street, Belfast, em­ploy­ing 11 staff.

The for­mer Bal­loo House and Howard Street chef, and his part­ner An­to­nia Koemdzhieva, opened the restau­rant with­out fuss to al­low them to ‘fine-tune’ the ser­vice be­fore a pro­mo­tional drive.

“I’ve worked all over Europe and in Lon­don with Gor­don Ram­say and Gary Rhodes, which was very stressful. That was long hours and a lot of hard graft so I wanted to go back to the place where I re­ally loved to cook,” Mr El­liott said.

And that place was on board a yacht be­long­ing to a Rus­sian busi­ness­man who trav­elled the coasts of Italy, Spain, Turkey, Tu­nisia and Sar­dinia.

“I would go ashore to the mar­kets and pick up the fresh­est stuff around the Mediter­ranean and I wanted to bring that to Belfast. It doesn’t mat­ter that we don’t have the cli­mate, we can still en­joy the food and the free­dom of tapas din­ing,” he said.

The theme at Edo is a ‘feed­ing and shar­ing style serve’ amid ‘cosy sur­round­ings’.

“But we also al­low for those who are used to tra­di­tional ser­vices to or­der their food and have it served as a starter and main,” Mr El­liott ex­plained. Edo is just one of a hand­ful of restau­rants in Ire­land to use a Bertha oven, which al­lows chefs to cook with ap­ple and pear wood to give dishes a dis­tinc­tive flavour.

“It gives a unique, earthy smok­i­ness flavour to the meat,” Mr El­liott said.

He said week­end trade is busy but Tues­days and Wed­nes­days are prov­ing to be a chal­lenge.

“There’s a bus shel­ter out the front of the restau­rant so the buses can block us in and that means many peo­ple don’t see us,” he said. “We are get­ting a sign to al­low peo­ple to know we’re there and word of mouth so far has been great.” Mr El­liott will be look­ing for more front of house staff, a man­ager and a su­per­vi­sor, as well as a bar­man, as business grows.

Edo is just one in a string of new restau­rants pop­ping up in NI ahead of the fes­tive foodie sea­son. Michael Fletcher and Michael O’connor of The Bark­ing Dog are one step closer to open­ing their sec­ond Belfast es­tab­lish­ment at the re­vamped Weav­ing Works on Ormeau Av­enue as ap­pli­ca­tions re­veal they have ap­plied for a liquor li­cence.

And food fans are gear­ing up for the launch of Miche­lin-starred chef Danni Barry and Ste­vie and Cristina Hig­gin­son’s Cle­naghan’s Restau­rant in Aghalee , Co Antrim, next month.

Jonny El­liott and An­to­nia Koemdzhieva out­side their new restau­rant, Edo, on Up­per Queen Street. Left: in­side the eaterie and one of their dishes

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