March is the month of heritage and traditions in the Northern Ireland 2016 food and drink calendar, and one tradition enjoyed by many during the Easter holidays is dining out with friends and family. With a few days off work ahead for many of us, it’s the perfect time to plan a few outings with family and friends.
Easter has such a big connection with food, and to celebrate the big focus on food in Northern Ireland in 2016, we’re recommending five restaurants around Northern Ireland to try and get along to over the coming weeks. We’ve dined in all of these restaurants over the last 12 months and would highly recommend them all.
1. Brunel’s Restaurant, Newcastle:
A popular destination for many over the Easter break is the our home town of Newcastle. With the stunning Mourne Mountains as a backdrop, there’s so much on offer in Newcastle for visitors of all ages and interests. Food is no exception, with Newcastle boosting a number of great bars and restaurants, with Brunel’s the latest jewel in the Mourne crown.
Opened in 2014 by head chef Paul Cunningham, Brunel’s is a rustic, cosy setting with maritime accents offering a fine dining experience at an affordable price. With a range of set menus including lunch, dinner and early bird, along with a special Sunday menu and various events and tasting menus, there really is something for everyone at Brunel’s. The early bird menu (2 courses £16.95 and 3 courses £18.95) offers fantastic value for a great selection of locally inspired dishes.
Must try – Goat’s cheese mousse to start and hay smoked venison for your main. Finish with the locally foraged sea buckthorn curd.
Visit www.brunelsrestaurant.co.uk for menus and more information.
2. Deanes at Queens, Belfast:
While Epic by Michael Deane was recently awarded the coveted Michelin Star, its sister restaurant Deanes at Queens continues to make all the right noises on the local restaurant scene. Refurbished in 2015, Deanes at Queens is a modern, vibrant restaurant in the heart of Belfast’s University Quarter. Spend some time in the Ulster Museum or take a leisurely stroll through Botanic Gardens to work up an appetite – not that you’ll need one for Deanes at Queens such is the tantalising range of food available.
Head chef Chris Fearon of Great British Menu fame leads the talented team in Deanes at Queens, creating dishes to suit all your dining needs. From the fine dining experience of dinner to snacks at the fully licensed bar, there’s plenty of choice available to diners. Open 7 days a week, and serving from 12 noon, be sure to get along to DQ this Easter.
Must try – Confit duck leg to start and peppered monkfish for main. For the dessert lovers among you, be sure to try the wild honey panna cotta.
Visit www.michaeldeane.co.uk/deanes-at-queens for menus and more information.
3. Balloo House, Killinchy:
Another chef of Great British Menu fame, Danny Miller, is the head chef at popular Killinchy eatery Balloo House. Balloo House has earned a great reputation for itself in recent years and is considered one of Northern Ireland’s, and indeed Ireland’s top restaurants. Danny and his team have won an abundance of accolades over the years and their European inspired dishes are sure to be a hit with visitors this Easter.
As well as a popular weekly menu, Balloo House are running a series of tasting events in 2016 with Michelin starred chefs, Tom Kitchen, Glynn Purnell, Nigel Howarth and Stephen Terry, the first of which took place on Monday 14th March with talented Scottish chef Tom Kitchen. Glynn Purnell is the next super chef on show as he takes over the Balloo House kitchen on Friday 23rd May with a 5 course tasting menu.
Must try – Portavogie prawn risotto to start, slow cooked beef cheeks for main and finish with the classic sticky toffee pudding.
Visit www.ballooinns.com/balloo-house for menus and more information.
4. Coppi, Belfast:
St Anne’s Square is a great spot to get yourself along to if you’re looking for dining options in Belfast City Centre. One of our favourite restaurants in St Anne’s Square is the Italian inspired Coppi Restaurant. Named after famous Italian cyclist Angelo Fausto Coppi, Coppi is perfect for a group of friends to get along to over the holidays. The stylish interior creates a great setting to just relax and unwind with friends and family after a day of sightseeing in Belfast.
If we’re blessed with the weather over the Easter break be sure to bask in the spring sun by dining outside Coppi in the majestic St Anne’s courtyard. Coppi offers a variety of Italian and European inspired dishes at a range of prices with something to suit everyone. The cichetti snack option is a must-try and the perfect sharing platter to enjoy as an appetiser before your meal. And if you like to be challenged while dining, why not try out the seriously impressive Florentine for two, a 1kg ribeye beef sharing plate.
Must try – Seared scallops to start, followed by the smoked chicken tortellini. Finish with the Coppi tiramisu, a hit with many diners.
Visit www.coppi.co.uk for menus and more information.
You can find out more about Coppi and other great restaurants in Belfast by reading our foodie guide to Belfast.
5. Bushmills Inn, Bushmills:
Another popular destination for many during the Easter holidays is the Causeway Coast and Glens, and in particular the town of Bushmills. With so much on Bushmills’ doorstep, from Dunluce Castle and the Giants Causeway to the world famous Bushmills Distillery, and with Game of Thrones favourite Ballintoy Harbour only a short drive away, Bushmills is sure to draw a crowd over the coming months.
All the sightseeing and walking about can leave visitors looking for the ideal destination to stop in and enjoy a drink and a feed. Look no further than Bushmills Inn, a regular winner of tourism and accommodation awards in recent years. The Bushmills Inn has also earned a great reputation both locally and nationally for food in recent times, with AA and Taste of Ulster recognising the quality of food produced at the Inn. Local produce is dotted throughout the menu at the Bushmills Inn, so you’ll get a real flavour for the area in the relaxing setting of the restaurant.
Must try – Whole stuffed quail to start followed by the locally sourced Greencastle hake fillet. The raspberry parfait is a great way to finish your meal.
Visit www.bushmillsinn.com for menus and more information.
Have you any places to add to the list?
With Easter quickly approaching, have you any places in Antrim or Down to add to this list? Feel free to share them with us by commenting below or connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter. We might even try to swing by some of the best recommendations during our Easter break.