has some of the best restaurants in the UK in terms of unique menus, fresh produce and great atmosphere. Treating yourself won’t break the bank either, as the city’s most expensive restaurants are usually cheaper than ones you’ll find in London. While you’ll likely find that the best restaurants are located in the South district and throughout the Cathedral Quarter, most establishments will boast amazing food and wine menus all year round. Here are six of the best.
The Great Room Restaurant
Restaurant with Rooms, Contemporary, Seafood, Steakhouse, $$$
The Great Room Restaurant is part of the Merchant Hotel, located in the Cathedral Quarter. Having been awarded 2 AA Rosettes, the Great Room looks like something out of a Victorian dream, decorated with striking red and gold. Diners feast under a glass cupola – which happens to be Ireland’s largest chandelier.
The food is one of a kind; the summer menu includes dressed crab and oyster beignets and speciality Irish pork fillet with onions and baby leeks. Each menu option will come with a recommendation of an in-house wine to pair with your meal. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be able to make the most of the three-course vegetarian menu, featuring a wild garlic and asparagus velouté starter and a gnocchi main.
Restaurant, Contemporary, Healthy, Seafood, $$$
Molly’s Yard is a small establishment behind Queen’s University, resting at the top of the beautiful Botanic Avenue. Fine dining comes cheap at this restaurant, which has a 5–10–5 menu (in GBP) on offer throughout the year, showcasing the best local produce from Northern Ireland. Menu options includes the favourite seafood chowder and Molly’s burger Mór.
The a la carte menu includes a smoked salmon terrine starter, Belfast hills kid goat shoulder for the main and a funky selection of dessert options – from Irish cheeses to a bag of Abernathy fudge. They also have a fantastic cocktail menu and specialise in all things gin.
Bistro, Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
Coco offers a relaxed fine dining experience and almost feels like a bistro, just with a better menu. The restaurant is situated behind City Hall, which often houses the city’s local fashion events and meetings. Menu options are all tempting and hard to decide between, from the seared scallops to the venison and herb gnocchi, and salted caramel desert.
In terms of cocktails, the establishment aims to provide guests with modern twists on classic drinks, including the lychee martini, a favourite with visitors.
Deanes at Queens
Restaurant, Wine Bar, Soup, Seafood, Contemporary, $$$
This restaurant is worth a visit for its wine and food bar. Head chef Chris Fearon, who once appeared on BBC’s Great British Menu, opened his chain of restaurants throughout Belfast City. The College Green restaurant holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand for its extraordinary menu and presentation inside the open plan setting, which also has its own wine tasting bar. With too many first-class menu options to choose from, you’ll be stuck between the local Mourne Blackface lamb rump or a dressed and roasted hake for lunch.
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
Like many of Belfast’s new restaurants, Salt Bistro is classy and chic, with a classic evening menu. The bistro-like atmosphere ensures it fits in perfectly at its location in St Anne’s Square in the Cathedral Quarter, which is famous for first-class food in casual and alternative settings. Presentation is casual: sides are brought out in baskets, plates are simple and tasty and the wine menu is a great pairing to both.
James Street South
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
James Street South opened in 2003 and has since dominated the restaurant culture in the city. This interior feels like an art gallery-turned-restaurant, and the food itself is the art. Each menu option is presented with a unique twist, from the colourful pasta to the smoked salmon cured with Guinness.
They have a fantastic tasting menu if you want a little bit of everything; it has its own vegetarian option and wine pairings that go with each course. Their reputation has allowed them to host a range of events, and private dining experiences for groups are available throughout the year.