Right, it’s late January and it would absolutely founder ye out there. But you’ve braved the slightly less than mild temperatures to get out, and you’re looking for somewhere with a wee warm glow. An intimate little nook with an open fire, soft seating, and top notch food and drink. Belfast has loads of these, here are just a handful of them.
Calvin Holohan has based the ethos of his pantry on memories of his Grandmother’s kitchen, eating fresh bread and scones in a comfy chair by the turf fire. The Holohan family settle for nothing less than the best quality, traditional cuisine with added innovation. These nostalgia inducing dishes from across Ireland remind you of your own culinary experiences growing up.
Comfort food: Holohan’s love their boxty (Irish potato pancake), so try the Fermanagh boxty dumplings, butternut squash, sage, sweet onion & St.Tola goat’s curd.
The Errigle Inn
The Errigle is in South Belfast on the Ormeau Road, which has seen much change in recent years with modern apartments and eateries replacing the industry of old like the Ormeau Bakery and the never to be forgotten Curzon Cinema, which I visited many times in my youth. This bar however opened in 1935 and has stood the test, offering its customers everything from weekends full of live sport, tonnes of live music, something it’s famous for, and a roof terrace for those 2 weeks in June we call Summertime.
That’s before we get to the food and drink. They host regular ‘meet the brewer’ nights supporting our fantastic local beer producers, and the food menu is filled with rich, hearty, ‘plate piled high’ sort of meals.
Comfort food: steak & Guinness pie, mash, veg and roast gravy.
Sweet Afton is so called after its namesake poem by Scottish poet Robert Burns. The bar’s interior is probably as cosy as they come. Decorative features such as the large bookcases and rugs, log piles and huge fireplace make this a most appealing place to sit, snack and sip.
On the menu there’s plenty of steaks and burgers on the go from the grill, plus a good offering for vegetarians too. You also have a handy little 3 for £10 bar snacks menu, and an uber extensive choice of drinks.
Comfort food: Chargrilled Chicken stack, buttered champ, topped with tobacco onions & creamy pepper sauce.
AMPMs outlandish interior in no way puts off the crowds of lunchtime diners and weekend night outers from visiting this bohemian fairy lit boutique and enjoying everything from small plates and cocktails to all out banquets and burlesque. In fact, it’s one of the most talked about nights out in Belfast, and one of the winners at the 2018 Food Awards NI.
Comfort food: The dine in fish supper. Beer battered haddock, tartar sauce, mushy peas and chunky triple cooked chips
And finally there’s the Doyen. This is fast becoming one of my favourite bars in Belfast. I called in for a coffee a couple of weeks ago and could’ve sat there for hours. So relaxing, still gleaming with newness you have the bright cafe bar at the front and the stylish cocktail bar to the back. There’s even a play area for the kids to keep them occupied while you enjoy your cuppa.
Comfort food: From the all-day bar menu, skip straight to dessert and have the dark chocolate tart with caramelised oranges & crème fraîche.