Gordon Ramsay Plane Food

Whilst waiting for our night flight we decided to dine in the restaurant. Decor looked great as did the menu……but beware the small print,because both my wife and I missed it, more later!! Again this was on BA for making us miss our original flights.

A reason we chose Ramsay Plane Food was that kids eat free if adults order mains. Before we were seated the kids received two Tilly’s Treat boxes to play with. We asked for water and this was duly delivered. Before we ordered we received two warm complimentary bread rolls and butter. Then my wife ordered the rigatoni and I the butter chicken and two sausage spaghetti kids meals. We ordered a side of mac cheese.

The kids meals came out in rapid time and looked bland and indeed tasted so. The spaghetti was cool and too al dente!!

This was the same with the rigatoni when it was served, which the waitress said would be creamy, but wasn’t. The Mac cheese,being a side dish, we expected it with our mains, but it was served before our mains!!! It was piping hot and delicious to be fair. My butter chicken was actually very tasty and pretty authentic!! So Gordon you got the bread, butter chicken and mac cheese spot on.

When we ordered the bill it came after some time and we were surprised to see cover charge of £3 and optional service charge of £4.50. We did query this and our waitress said it was for the bread and was written on the menu. When we checked the menu we discovered that it wasn’t for bread but a £1.50/head for using dining room!!!!! The ‘optional service charge’ printed on bill of £4.50 equates to a discretionary 12.5% on the menu. Now this is not very fair or clear and I would urge the management to clarify this and change policy. When the £3 was removed we still paid the service charge. This did make the whole experience very average!!

Hallowe’en at Souls

Last Friday evening my wife and two daughters deputised for me and attended the launch of the new and seasonal Hallowe’en Set Menu at Souls Restaurant .

The girls really got into the part and spent ages dressing up……and they looked scary!!!

The menu itself was a five course meal with or without paired wines. There were some mouth watering dishes in particular the lamb chops and goat biryani (my lovely wife brought me some back to sample!!).

At the end one lucky person won the best fancy dress…as a scarecrow!! Congrats to her on winning a meal for 4. My money was on my wife, but then I would say that,she should have won. The judge must have lost his specs or had a few too many Witches Brew!!

In all seriousness congrats to the winner who will Really enjoy her meal for 4. Great place and food!!

Belfast Cocktail Week

10 EVENTS NOT TO BE MISSED DURING BELFAST COCKTAIL WEEK

A week-long festival aimed at cocktail lovers will bring a top line-up of special events to Belfast from October 16 – 22.

Whether you are looking for a ground-breaking cocktail creation, want to watch some of the world’s best bartenders in action, or fancy taking a step back in time to the age of prohibition, Belfast Cocktail Week has something for everyone.  

Take your pick from the jam-packed calendar of bespoke events taking place across the Cathedral Quarter, including;

·         Bar Swift Takeover: The Merchant Hotel, October 16 – 19, 6pm

Fresh from a big win at the Spirited Awards, London’s bar Swift will take up a special residency in The Merchant Hotel’s iconic Cocktail Bar for a takeover with innovative cocktails, such as the delicious Sgroppino (Lemon sorbet, prosecco, Italicus), and their renowned Irish coffees, on offer.

·         An Evening with Glendalough Gin: Muriels Café Bar, October 16, 7pm

Wicklow’s Glendalough Distillery will bring its range of seasonal, wild botanical gins to Muriels Café Bar, celebrating the tradition and heritage of the Irish gin trade with an evening hosted by the craft gin distillery.

·         A tribute to Joe Gilmore: Bootleggers, October 16, 7pm

Raise a glass to local legend and Belfast born bartender during this tribute night, sure to please all cocktail lovers.  Joe Gilmore was one of the longest running Head Barmen at London’s five-star Savoy Hotel and mixed drinks for film stars, prime ministers and presidents during his extraordinary career.

·         Luggage Room Takeover: Sixty6, October 17, 7pm

Mayfair comes to Sixty6 to offer guests the best hospitality the West End has to offer.  Join the team to enjoy a bespoke cocktail menu that has been developed especially by The Luggage Room in the Marriot Hotel, London.

·         Plantation Rum Tiki Takeover: The Spaniard, October 18, 7pm

Sample a taste of the Caribbean with an evening of exotic rum from Jamaica, Barbados and Panama with renowned spirits expert and Plantation Rum Brand Ambassador, Paul McFadyen.

·         An Evening with Eden Mill Gin: Muriels Café Bar, October 19, 7pm

A representative of the Eden Mill Distillery will make the journey from Scotland for a tasting evening of premium Scottish gins, including its famous Pink Love Gin.

·         Tanqueray Ten Takeover Prohibition Party: Bert’s Jazz Bar, October 19, 8pm

Take a step back in time and enjoy a night of classic cocktails made with the help of The Tanqueray Ten Imperial Shaker – a revolution in cocktail making.  Guests can also enjoy live music with Long John’s Jump and Jive Band and dinner surrounded by the Art Deco glamour of 1930s New York.

·         Acceptable in the 80’s: Bootleggers, October 19, 7pm

Don your best 80s fashion and enjoy a twist on the most popular cocktails of the time including the Blue Lagoon and Pina Colada.  Don’t forget to request your favourite tunes from the DJ who will be spinning out top hits such as Livin’ on a Prayer, Billie Jean and Sweet Child O’ Mine.

·         Swift Farewell Rooftop Party: The Merchant Hotel’s Rooftop Bar, October 20, 8pm

For a fitting end to a week-long residency, Bar Swift will take over at The Merchant Rooftop to host a farewell shindig with live traditional music throughout the night. Ticket price includes a welcome drink and all proceeds go to The Benevolent charity that provides help and support to current and former employees of the drinks industry and their families.

·         Tristan Stephenson: Sixty6, October 22, 6pm

Guest speaker, author of the Curious Bartender range of cocktail books and award-winning bartender, Tristan Stephenson, will host a seminar exploring the art of mixing the perfect cocktail in Sixty6.  The famed bartender will give guests an exclusive opportunity to taste contemporary and classic cocktails with his own unique twist.  Bookings for this event include a drink and ticket to the after party.

Most events at Belfast Cocktail Week are free of charge but you need to reserve your space!  For a full line-up of events, information on ticketed events and optional festival passes, visit BelfastCocktailWeek.co.uk

Bars taking part in the festival include The Cocktail Bar and Bert’s Jazz Bar at The Merchant, The National Grande Café and Club Sixty6, Bullitt Hotel, Bootleggers, Muriels Café Bar, The Spaniard and Babel, the new rooftop cocktail bar at Bullitt, on its opening weekend.

The vision is for Belfast Cocktail Week to become an annual event, increasing in scale in the subsequent years.

My Eat Real Snacks

I recently received a selection of new, healthy and different snacks from Eat Real and was so excited to try them!!

So on Saturday afternoon my wife, 9 and 5 year old daughters and I sat down and tried them all. Firstly they are an alternative to Crisps and most are suitable for gluten free and all are vegan. The packaging was very strong-had a tussle to Open!! It was very clear what ingredients were in it and what market it was suitable for-a big strong point.

The first one we tried was the sea salt lentil chips:

These were crispy and nice but we all felt rather plain. These were gluten free.

Next up was the hummus chips flavoured with sour cream:

Now these were our favourites, crispy and full of flavour!! Again gluten free.

Then came the quinoa chips flavoured with sun dried tomatoes:

Tasty and full of flavour-had an aftertaste though. Not for gluten free.

Lastly was the veggie straws:

Great concept and presentation but lacked in flavour.

All in all we enjoyed, from best down: hummus chips, lentil chips, quinoa chips then veggie straws.

Excellent family lunch at Hot Igloo

Situated in the heart of Glengormley can be found Hot Igloo. This is a superb family friendly and family run Italian Restaurant. We (my wife, two daughters and I) had a meal for Four gift voucher which we decided to use. I’ve had pizza here before and found it very good and so knew what to expect. There is ample space inside for couples, families and small to large groups. Especially popular is the family friendly Pizza making parties/ facilities available and is hugely popular for kids birthday parties (indeed there was one taking place when we arrived, looked fabulous!!). The restaurant has recently added car parking at the rear.

Hot Igloo opened earlier this year and it’s unique feature is that it houses Ireland’s largest Wood fired oven, which is shaped and coloured white….hence the name!!! The menu is Italian based (pizza and pasta), but there are many other delicious and appetising dishes such as the hanging skewer. Rumour has it that the menu is being changed.

Our waitress was very friendly and welcoming and engaged very well with us especially my two daughters and this was a rather nice touch. She took our drinks order and promptly served us (4 waters and an orange Sanpellangrino). Then she took our meal order which was a Sharing platter for two (we had calamari, hot wings and breaded mushrooms with a bbq dip and garlic dip). The girls ordered a pepperoni pizza and penne Carbonara (we asked chef to substitute the spaghetti for penne which he duly obliged).

The calamari was ‘skinny chip’ in size and perfectly cooked as was the breaded mushrooms. The wings were meaty and full of flavour and not too spicy (I would have liked them hotter) and the four of us tucked in and enjoyed very much. The dips complimented the starters very well.

For our main course my wife chose beer battered cod and chunky chips, I went for the surf and turf skewer with nan. The cod was crisply battered and it was a good size. This was served on a bed of chunky chips with side salad and tartare sauce and mushy peas. This was a superb cod and chips.

My surf and turf was kind of adjusted by me ie I had chicken instead of beef and chef skewered my prawns and lightly seasoned it before grilling and the result was delicious crunchy prawns and al dente vegetables Mediterranean style. He cooked the chicken breast separately as it needed longer. The nan was freshly prepared in the hot igloo and was fluffy and tasty and it was served along with salad, slaw and a subtle garlic dip. The prawns were crunchy and juicy and cooked to perfection. Chicken was moist and succulent and the whole dish surpassed my expectations!!

My girls finished with a strawberry and candy floss slushie respectively. Overall this was a very well presented meal, tasty and faultless in all departments and thoroughly enjoyed by us all. The service was superb and staff very helpful. Love the layout and decor. Certainly worth a trip to Glengormley!!

Birthday treat for my buddy

I took a very good friend out for a wonderful and memorable birthday meal last night. The venue was Taaj in Jordanstown. On arrival we were warmly greeted and seated and presented with our menus, which included the regular A la Carte and the High Tea Menu. As we were both hungry we opted for A la Carte. Whilst we looked at the menu we nibbled on freshly prepared and crisp poppadoms served with three delectable chutneys. Our drinks were a big bottle of Kingfisher for my bud and sparkling water for me!!

Our order was:

Mixed meat starter to share

(Chicken tikka, Lamb tikka, seekh kebab, reshmi kebab, meat samosa, salad)

Seafood balti (monkfish, king prawn)

Nag Puri (Chicken and lamb tikka)

PR

Cheese nan

The meat starter was well presented and the samosa pastry was crispy and meats were all tender and succulent.

The main courses were absolutely delicious, rich in flavour and spice and not oily or falsely coloured, but natural and authentic. The rice and nan were tasty and just enough for the two of us. Exceptional service in wonderful surrounds and amazing authentic food. All for under £60!!

Takeout from the new Camile Thai in Ballyhack

I was very fortunate to be invited along to the pre launch testing and tasting at Camile Thai Ballyhackamore.

I’m a huge fan of Camile Thai and have dined at the other location on the Lisburn Road. The concept is freshly prepared high quality and very authentic Thai food. This is evident from the decor to displays to the menu.

On arrival I was warmly welcomed and given the menu. The deal was to order off the menu and for the team to cook, pack and Despatch the food. It was very busy and all 20 odd staff must have been there prepping, cooking, and packing as well as hosting!!

I went for starters of chicken skewers (4), hot chicken wings (9) and crispy pork belly (lots). It took about 15 minutes to cook and took me about 15 to get home and the food was still piping hot!!

The battered dishes were served on crispy vermicelli and sweet chilli dipping sauce. The batter was crispy and full of flavour. The crispy vermicelli was a great touch. The skewers were very moist and full of satay flavour.

For mains I ordered Pad King Prawns with Jasmine Rice and chicken chu Chee curry with Jasmine rice. The chicken was very spicy and both dishes were beautiful. The pad prawns were distinctly flavoured with fish sauce and wonderful. If anything maybe the portion size was a bit small.

There are fresh juices and drinks on display and plenty of offers to avail. This is definitely a superb addition to ‘Bally-Snack-amor’

Big thank you to the staff and management for the kind invite and best wishes!!!

Daddy daughter lunch at Hickorys

After our trek up to Scrabo Tower, my two girls and I had built up a hefty appetite. As we were in Newtownards I decided to take them to Hickorys Smokehouse and Grill.

We arrived around mid day and we very impressed with the welcome we received and with the general ‘feel’ and look of the place.

On chatting to the manager (who hails from Turkey and has made NI his home), he was telling me that the restaurant has been Hickory’s since 2014. It was previously Italian restaurants by the name of Zio then Carlitos. Hickory’s is undergoing a bit of a face lift and I thought the place looked really authentic!!

I really loved the colour scheme and the pictures especially ones explaining the BBQ terms etc.

The brand new menu was launched a couple of weeks ago and has really been popular with the customers and staff as well.

There is also a kids menu and on Sundays kids eat for free!! The main restaurant (used for smaller groups and has live music at the weekend) holds about 90 settings with an additional 60 on the first floor (used for bigger parties) and up to 60 in the Basement (which can be hired out for private functions and has a DJ booth). There is also a covered/heated beer garden/smoking area at the rear.

My girls went for sausage (2), chips and beans and freshly made chicken goujons (4) chips and beans. The chips were skinny fries (with skin on) and were crispy!! The girls finished them off in a jiffy whilst I had my starter of smoked garlic prawn gambas. This dish had plenty of succulent prawns in a lovely smokey, tomato sauce with a hint of garlic,served with side salad and garlic bread.

The girls still had room for strawberry and vanilla sundaes whilst I had my full rack of ribs with half a chicken. Mine cam out on a tray accompanied by some slaw, two meaty onion rings, salad and a token piece of garlic bread. In all honesty it was a meat feast!!

The sundaes were delicious and filling according to my girls!!! Now onto my tray… presentation was first class, no airs and graces, good food and plenty of it did all the talking. Taste wise the ribs (all 10 I counted) were loaded with succulent, soft, melt in your mouth/fall apart slow cooked, finest fresh Northern Irish pork! There was plenty of BBQ sauce on board (I asked for more as I like my BBQ sauce). The fresh NI chicken was moist all the way through, full of flavour and exceptional. The slaw was creamy and crunchy but portion could have been bigger, the two onion rings were wonderful-plenty on onion in a light batter. The salad was kind of ‘lost’ and really not needed and garlic bread again was nice but didn’t belong. If the dish was served with corn bread and pickles and slaw that would have been perfection.

The verdict……definitely one of the best Smokehouse/ slow cooked BBQ restaurants I’ve been to-One to definitely pay a visit to.

There are various special offers on like Steak night Tuesday, Rib Wednesday and T bone Thursday. The basement can be hired out for private functions as well. The staff are very helpful, knowledgeable and friendly and this is a super, family friendly, no nonsense eatery.

A Royal Tandoori Special

As it was my father in laws last night of his holiday I decided to push the boat out and make a very special dish which I first tasted in 1998 in a very special family run restaurant in Old Delhi. The dish was a Tandoori Raan. It’s basically a leg of goat which is marinated for 24 hours and slow roasted in a Tandoor. I have to admit I used a 1.4kg shoulder of Northern Irish ☘️ lamb, which I marinated (for 24hrs) in my secret blend of Tandoori masala with a twist!!!

I cooked it, wrapped loosely in foil, at 200oC for 2.5 hours. I turned once and basted.

Then I carved the meat and completed the cooking.

I served it up with soft fluffy nan, yoghurt, my homemade chilli achaar, salad and my fathers legendary egg purji.

My father in law said it was the best lamb he’s tasted, he even wants it at Christmas!!! My two daughters loved it as well. This is a dish which is served at grand feasts of the Maharajahs and Nizams in their Royal Dining Halls…Truly fit for Royalty!