Howard Street, 56 Howard Street, Belfast, Tel. : 02890 248631
Tthe best compliment you can pay any restaurant, that is to say that it is compliant.
And a synonym for that in Northern Ireland is the excellent Howard Street which has never let me down.
I have eaten there on at least a dozen occasions and it has impressed me every time, regardless of the setting – romantic meals, business meetings, a night out with pals.
In fact, I would probably go so far as to say this is my favorite restaurant in Northern Ireland.
Even now, with the hospitality business ravaged by the pandemic, Howard Street continues to produce first-class food and service.
A meal there earlier this month was the epitome of two – two three-course feasts for £ 38 that could have graced the tables of any Michelin-starred restaurant in London.
This is excellent value for money considering we were having dinner on a Saturday night approaching Christmas.
The entrees were creamy goat cheese fritters coated in a crispy coating with crunchy and spicy cabbage spring rolls.
The dish was accompanied by sweet onion jam and pickled beets which contrasted well with the rich cheese.
The other selection was a Korean barbecue pork croquette with celeriac remoulade and burnt apple purée. Once again, it was a first class marriage of spices, sweetness and earthy flavors.
What the two dishes, and the four others on the starter menu, show is the skill of Howard Street chefs in handling flavors and techniques from around the world.
The menu is bouncing everywhere, in a very pleasant way, from Asia to the UK to the Mediterranean.
This global theme continues in the main courses with an absolute bang of a fish dish pairing France with India – smoked cod with melting potatoes and tender-stemmed broccoli in a shrimp madras.
Don’t be fooled by madras, this is not a fiery and tangy sauce, it is rather a warm and comforting hug. It’s filled with those sweet, delicate spices that linger pleasantly, then linger a bit longer.
The dish is a show and I was delighted to see Howard Street keep it on the menu after eating it there in June.
The other main course was a first class chicken and ham ballotine, with stuffing, duck fat potatoes, honey roasted carrots, cabbage and bacon, and cranberry jam. and sauce.
Its smell was haunting, like Christmas water, Howard Street could bottle it and make a fortune this time of year.
We ended our meals with two brilliant desserts, a lovely alcoholic trifle that was a tribute to festive extravagance, and a butterscotch bread pudding with salted ice cream.
The service throughout our visit was extremely professional, with the staff taking care to make diners feel safe and the restaurant following all Covid-19 guidelines.
Be warned though, it was difficult to get a reservation over the phone with most tables taken online which can be the best way to secure a reservation.
A service ****
THE LAW PROJECT
Three course special x2 £ 76
Drinks £ 26