Friday 20 September 2019

9 reasons why Belfast should be on every foodie’s bucket list

Belfast packs a serious culinary punch. This once hidden gem is now gaining a reputation as one of Europe’s leading food destinations. From bustling food markets to intimate cooking classes, the city has something for every foodie no matter what your taste (pun intended).

The best part is that Belfast is right on our doorstep. Just two hours from Dublin and easily accessible from the rest of the island, the city is the perfect place to spend a weekend break this autumn.

With a new Taste the Island campaign promoting the very best food and drink to be found on these shores, we looked at just some of fantastic foodie experiences that Belfast has to offer.

1. St George’s Market

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If you want to sample some purse-friendly local fare, then St George’s Market is the perfect place for you. The award-winning market, built between 1890 and 1896, is one of Belfast's oldest attractions.

Spend an hour (or two) wandering around local stalls. Sample fresh produce, talk to traders or sit and sip a coffee while taking in the bustling atmosphere. Don’t forget to stop by Rose Cottage, a quaint little stall that sells some delicious homemade jams and chutneys.

2. District Coffee

District is an independently-owned coffee shop and deli serving delicious, simple, fresh food in the heart of Belfast. They are currently operating in three locations in the city; Ormeau Road, Stranmillis Road and Lisburn Road. All locations serve breakfast, lunch and some of the best coffee available in Belfast.

The menu is small; instead of focusing on an array of foodie fads they’re dedicated to good, honest food. If you pop in for breakfast, try the poached eggs and bacon on sourdough toast with chilli mango relish - you won’t regret it.

3. Forestside Cookery School

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Are you a whizz in the kitchen? Put your skills to the test with a culinary masterclass at Forestside Cookery School. Based in Forestside Shopping Centre on the outskirts of Belfast city centre, this unique school provides fun, informative workshops with 16 fully-equipped work stations.

Each class is led by highly passionate chefs with a wealth of experience. Classes range from Sicilian cookery to quick Korean bowls. They even run kids classes if you have a budding mini chef in your family.

4. Muriel’s

After a busy day in Belfast city centre, you might be in the mood for something stronger than a coffee. There’s one place that’s popular with locals and tourists alike, Muriel’s.

Tucked away on a quiet side street, Muriel’s is a quirky yet undeniably classy café/bar. One of the first things that will grab your attention as you walk through the doors is the quirky décor. Inspired by a former milliner, Muriel’s is lavish (to say the least), with velvet chairs and shimmering chandeliers. The bar has an impressive selection of gins as well as an extensive cocktail menu. Try the French martini for a real treat.

5. The Observatory Bar at Grand Central

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If you want the wow factor then you should definitely check out the Observatory Bar at Grand Central Hotel. Perched on the 23rd floor, the Observatory is Ireland’s tallest bar. Boasting panoramic views of Belfast city and beyond it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset, enjoy a signature cocktail or see the city twinkle from above.

For an outing with a difference, book in for their celestial afternoon tea. Highlights include the elderflower and rhubarb panna cotta plus a warm ginger cake that is to die for. Afternoon tea is served daily from 1-5pm and costs £40 per person. Book online to secure your place.

6. Holohan’s at the Barge

As the name suggests, Holohan’s is an old converted barge, transformed into a chic little restaurant. Sitting on the river Lagan, this is one restaurant where you are guaranteed a view of the water. But this eatery doesn’t put style over substance. The novelty of dining on a boat is secondary to the excellent food.

Like its sister restaurant, Holohan’s Pantry, all the food is local and seasonal with a focus on Irish cuisine (with a modern twist). For example, the truffled Fermanagh boxty is served with peas, asparagus, chestnut mushrooms and goats’ cheese. A far cry from the boxty, bacon and eggs that we had growing up.

7. Bullitt Hotel

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Bullitt is one of Belfast’s newest and slickest hotels. Just a two-minute walk from the cobbled Cathedral Quarter, and around the corner from Victoria Square shopping complex, the hotel provides the perfect base to explore the city. It’s modern, chic and a great spot for foodies.

Not only does the hotel have two impressive bars, the lobby bar and the Babel rooftop bar, it also has an impressive on-site restaurant. The Taylor & Clay restaurant uses locally-sourced steaks, seafood and lamb. Vegetables also come from a local organic garden. While the menu is small, it’s big on quality. Everything is fresh, homemade and truly delicious. With rooms from £85 per night, it’s well worth paying a visit to this up and coming hotel.

8. John Long’s

Long’s is the oldest fish and chip shop in the city. Despite its reputation amongst locals, many tourists still have not heard of this Belfast institution.

Based on Athol Street, the chippie sells all the things you’d expect, from battered sausages to tasty burgers. Their speciality has to be their fish and chips. In fact, according to the restaurant’s website, "Eamon Holmes even said that if he had only a couple of days to live, he'd end up at Long's for his last meal. From the Big Man that is praise indeed." We have to agree.

9. Belfast Bites

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Do you want to hit Belfast’s top foodie spots but you’re running short on time? Book a place on the Belfast Bites tour run by Taste and Tour. During the tour you will explore Belfast’s thriving food and drink scene, visiting five different venues along the way. Stops include a modern café with a farm to fork ethos, a wine bar that serves Michelin desserts and a unique restaurant that’s putting a twist on Asian cuisine.

This Belfast Bites tour is a great way to meet local vendors and find out more about the passion behind the plate. Tickets cost £63 but book fast, as they tend to sell out quickly.

If you love high end restaurants, cosy pubs and quirky eateries, then Belfast is the place for you. Experience the city’s warm welcome for yourself with a staycation this autumn.

Plan your foodie short break now from £89 b&b on the Discover Northern Ireland website.

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