Last week it was the mother-in-law’s birthday, and it was decreed we would go to Made in Belfast for dinner.
Actually, it wasn’t decreed at all, my mother-in-law is a very good egg. Instead, she chose a decent restaurant that she enjoys going to, and suggested we join her, as one is supposed to do on one’s birthday.
To be honest, until that night I was never really sure of where I stood on Made In Belfast. They pride themselves on things like posh fish finger sandwiches, and pies, and serving things in enamel ware, and going retro, and mad interiors, and all sorts.
And there was a big, big part of me that thought it was all hype, and they were somehow TRICKING us all into paying a tenner for a pie, and then got away with it, because of the mad interiors, and all.
That was until the birthday, that was.
For a start, there wasn’t even pie on the menu (apart from the humble kind).
The interior really is funky. It’s properly eclectic, with random bit of wallpaper and mismatched furniture, and spray painted lampshades and probably a million and one other things I didn’t pay any attention to. They also have a pink Smeg fridge, and we all know how badly I want one of those.
Anyway, once I managed to drag myself away from staring at the big shiny fridge of loveliness, I looked at the menu, and to be honest I was a bit disappointed. No pie, but Chicken and chips? I don’t care that it has a honey and lavender glaze, its chicken and chips for goodness sake. Same with the burger and chips. And the fish and chips. And the scampi and chips. And the mussels, with, erm, bread.
Then my eye was drawn to the outdoor bred pork chop, with chorizo cream and glazed carrots. It was calling to me. It was like someone had actually THOUGHT ABOUT THE MENU. Like it was filled with things that people actually want to eat, but with one or two choices to keep
pretentious food wabs people like myself happy.
It really was lovely, too. Potatoes and cream usually are, generally. And I’m on Operation Flat Stomach (I have a bikini to get into in exactly a month) so I’ve rather limited myself recently. add chorizo to the mix and you have a heady concoction of deliciousness.
The pork was simply cooked, and because of its upbringing? heritage? wonderful outdoor based lifestyle? this was a wise choice, because it really allowed to flavour of the meat to shine.
The sweetness of the carrots finished the whole lot off beautifully., and they even put it on a normal plate, so I couldn’t whine about style over substance.
And then I tasted the chicken. And the fish. And the chips. And the scampi. And something involving mushrooms. For research purposes, obviously. If you are precious about your own food, never invite me for dinner with you, that’s all I’m saying.
It all became clear why these things are consistently on the menu at Made In Belfast. They are on the menu because they taste RUDDY BRILLIANT.
All were simple, unassuming dishes, but really wonderfully executed. Everybody was hoovering up the food in front of them, and the in-laws used to own a chip shop, so are generally tricky to please when it comes to things with chips.
No puddings were necessary after the amount of meat and chips and cream we had all consumed. I shunned coffee and had an Elderflower Collins so delicious I wish I’d ordered one when I’d arrived. Because then I could have had two. Next time…
The only slight downside is the service. On the whole, it’s very good, but lacks confidence. We bought the mother in law a bottle of champagne (Tattinger, which is always nice to see) as a surprise, and it sort of arrived at the table apologetically, rather than with the finesse a bottle of champagne deserves.
Aside from that minor gripe, the whole experience was a total surprise to me. After my starter of humble pie, I discovered that there really is substance behind the funky presentation and upside-down lampshades in Made In Belfast. It’s a Belfast restaurant, and the people of this city still like simple, honest food. The team here manage to carry that off without being boring, or stodgy, or pretentious, and I salute them for it.
Made In Belfast
4 Wellington Street
Belfast BT1 6HT
028 9024 6712