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!

Superb meal at The Loft

I was treated to an amazing meal of corn fed chicken on champ by chef John. John paid particular detail to the chicken and he constructed the dish superbly. The chicken was so flavoursome and the taste, textures and aesthetics were quite simply fantastic. There is a new and exciting menu….what will you choose?


I’m so excited because the BBC Good Food Show is returning to Belfast……….

BBC’s The Big Family Cooking Showdown presenter, Nadiya Hussain, The Hairy Bikers, Michelin-star chef Michel Roux and MasterChef’s John Torode are among the top chefs and experts taking part in the show

Following its phenomenal success last year, the BBC Good Food Show will return to the Belfast Waterfront from 10-12 November 2017.

This year the show will return with more great food, a great range of some of Northern Ireland’s very best producers of food, drink and artisan products and a new spacious layout.  With a line-up of top celebrity chefs and culinary experts, the weekend will be full to the brim with demonstrations, tastings, chef interviews, book signings and more.

To help plan your weekend, here’s a taster of what’s on at the show this November.

The Big Kitchen

This unique theatre experience will bring guests closer to the celebrity and expert chefs who will be cooking up a storm and uncovering top tips for warming autumnal foods. Michelin-star chef Michel Roux takes to the stage

alongside family favourite Nadiya Hussain

The Hairy Bikers

and MasterChef’s John Torode

as the top chefs and experts bring recipes to life, live on stage. A Big Kitchen seat is included within the ticket price.

Eat like a Local

BBC Good Food’s unique ‘Eat like a Local’ demonstrations will also take place in the Big Kitchen theatre. These sessions will showcase home grown talent using the best of Northern Ireland’s produce to create inspirational dishes.  Local chefs will include Stephen Toman, part owner and chef at Michelin star restaurant, OX, Stephen Jeffers restaurateur and owner of Forestside Cookery School and Chris Magowan, Michelin star trained chef from Wine and Brine, Moira. Eat Like a Local is a free additional session available to add to booking.

The BBC Good Food Stage

After watching the chefs create mouth-watering recipes live on stage, the BBC Good Food Stage is the place for visitors to go get culinary queries answered as Good Food’s Editor-at-large Barney Desmazery, invites questions from the audience and chefs reveal the secrets of their success.  The BBC Good Food Stage is a free interview stage on the show floor.


The Tasting Theatre

Guests can taste and learn from the experts at the Taste the Greatness Experience presented by Discover Northern Ireland and hosted by Northern Ireland’s Paula McIntyre. Experts including local restauranteurs, producers and Great Taste winners will talk through the produce and the region they derive from, whilst guests sample a selection of Northern Ireland’s food and drink. Sessions are priced at £4.

The Whisky Blending Lab

New for 2017, The Whisky Lounge will be hosting whisky blending workshops throughout the Show. Visitors will be able to taste and learn about classic whiskies before creating their own blend to bottle and take home. Sessions are priced at £10.

More eating options and lots of shopping

Entertainment and inspiration aside, a visit to the Show offers a range of tasty eating and drinking options throughout the weekend including food-to-go, the Good Food’s own Pop-Up restaurant and delicious street food. Likewise, visitors can browse, sample, chat and buy from local producers at The Producers’ Village and The Food NI Pavilion or get great deals from big name cookery brands.

Commenting on her participation in this year’s event, Nadiya Hussain, said: ‘I am delighted to be taking part in the BBC Good Food Show in Belfast this year and looking forward to meeting the local foodies who are reinventing traditional British and Irish cuisine.’ 

Commenting on this year’s event, Rachel Poletti-Gadd, Show Director for the BBC Good Food Show, said: ‘Following the success of last year’s event, we are pleased and excited to bring the BBC Good Food Show back to Belfast this November. Northern Ireland is home to many unique cooking styles, cuisines, traditions and recipes, and the culture of the region is personified in its signature foods and dishes.’

‘This year’s show is set to be bigger, better and more comfortable than last year’s and, once again, we have an impressive list of talent and exhibitors on board who are just as excited to share this experience as we are.’

Commenting on Food NI’s involvement in the Show, Lindsay Curran at Food NI, said: ‘For the second year running, Food NI’s involvement in the BBC Good Food Show celebrates the award winning ingredients and innovative producers that Northern Ireland yields. The reputation of Northern Irish food and drink is rising year on year, and the opportunity provided by events like the Good Food Show means we can showcase the best of local cuisine to a national audience.’

To find out more or to book, visit or call 0844 581 1356.

Tesco Taste 2017

What: Tesco Taste Festival

Where: Custom House Sq, Belfast

When: 22nd – 24th September 17

Times: Fri:2pm-8pm; Sat: 10am-6pm; Sun: 11am-5pm

The Tesco Taste Festival returns for its 9th year to Belfast’s Custom House Sq (22nd – 24th September). The Festival, which is the biggest food event in the Northern Irish calendar, brings together more than 60 suppliers to showcase their quality fayre and expects more than 25,000 visitors over the weekend. It’s free and is sharing its first day with Culture Night!!

Dinner anyone?

Just made some Nosh for a wee dinner party tonight!!

Very simple, it’s chicken masala, sweet corn brown rice, aloo gajjar or potato and carrot, served with pitta and salad…..smells delicious, all prepped and cooked in less than 90 minutes from first principles (except pitta).

Novel nutty snack

I was thrilled to find a wee parcel on my return from work yesterday. It was from Dolce la Dolce   and it contained four packs of True North snacks , two of Cashew Crunch and two of Almond Pecan Crunch.

My wife and I were so tempted that we opened one of each and tried them. They both tasted divine and weren’t too sweet. They were very moorish and we finished both packs!! We both liked the two different flavours very much but my wife liked the Cashew slightly more

whilst I favoured the Almond Pecan!!

There was a sweet taste to them but this was countered by the slight saltiness. They really were quite addictive!!

These snacks really were fantastic but care must be taken as they can be finished in one go!! They contain 0g Trans Fat, have no cholesterol, artificial colours or preservatives, are non GMO and non Dairy and are suitable for Vegans.

The snacks can be purchased at here at Amazon and one can follow them on Instagram and Facebook as below:

1.Instagram: a. #dolceladolce_uk;


2.Facebook: a. Dolce la Dolce

b. TrueNorth Snacks UK