Made in Belfast – Restaurant Review
Hubs and I have eaten at restaurants all over the world from the Yucatan in Mexico to superb authentic pizza in Toronto. We have checked out what makes Dublin a foodie destination and have really enjoyed some of the foodie places we have visited in and out of Belfast like Indie Fudes. So we were really looking forward to checking out the highly rated Made in Belfast restaurant.
Now I want to preface this review by admitting to knowing something about food and restaurants. I owned a food business, restaurants and was a development consultant for delis, farmer’s markets and grocery chains in Canada for over 15 years. I was also a food writer for the Examiner in Toronto for several years. I am not an expert by any stretch but I know good food, and I understand how food should be presented – in other words I am no amateur.
I like to make sure I check the reviews before I go to a local restaurant for a good meal. I always look on google and Tripadvisor and Made in Belfast had superb reviews with an average rating of 4.3 stars and 4.5 respectively. Well I don’t know if the evening we visited was an aberration or if the place has simply gotten complacent about their food or if we had just picked the wrong location near the Christmas Market. We rated Made in Belfast a poor 2.5 and I shall tell you why.
It was a rainy night in Belfast (like when isn’t it..lol) so we wandered into Made in Belfast on a Sunday night and managed to get a table pretty quickly without a reservation. The staff member who seated us was very nice and we were so far impressed with the service. Shortly after being seated a wait person took our drinks order and returned relatively promptly.
We had decided upon the 3 course meal which on a Sunday at Made in Belfast was a special price of £23 (just under) for the 3 courses. Loving crab, especially Irish crab I ordered the Potted Crab as a starter and hubs had the Chicken Liver Parfait. Both courses arrived within 12 minutes which was a bit excessive for a cold starter but nevertheless.
The crab was glorious with shrimp on top and some beautiful wheaten bread and Irish butter. However having said that I squeezed that lovely looking lemon to get a hit of freshness and destroyed the entire starter. The lemon was the worst most bitter fruit I had ever tasted and simply ruined the starter almost beyond eating. But I am a determined crab lover and dumped everything out of the silly pretentious jar presentation and attempted to squeeze out the lemon, difficult but damn it I wasn’t about to leave crab on my plate.
Hubs “parfait” was really the smoothest pate ever and it was worth every penny. They cheaped out on the crackers because he had to waste at least half the pate as there wasn’t anything to put it on. Having said that it was delicious, smooth and oh so creamy beautifully seasoned and a real treat. He also said it was the best damned chutney he had ever eaten and he hates chutney.
Next up we waited 20 minutes for our mains, not impressed at all. I had ordered the Venison Hotpot and hubs had decided upon the salmon. When it did arrive I was totally unimpressed by the look and appearance of my meal with its burnt edges and a blackened to cinder leaf of kale on top of the hotpot.
A mess of nasty overly sweet red cabbage on the side hiding a couple of tiny pieces of carrot and one piece of parsnip was pretty disgusting. The hotpot itself had a rubbery potato lid that was almost inedible. The saving grace of this mess was the venison. It was divinely tender and luscious (once you had scraped off the rather tasteless gravy). All in all not a success for me. The one bright spot in this disaster of a mains was the parsnip chips they were simply put – to die for. I am not sure what it is in Ireland but this obsession with mayonnaise must stop they tend to drown everything in it.
Alan however got the best piece of salmon he says he ever had. Perfectly cooked with crispy skin underneath, sitting atop a crab infused smooth silky mash he was in heaven – apart from the woody broccoli which was completely under-cooked he was a very happy man.
Now desert – normally I don’t eat desert I’m just not a big fan and generally I am always disappointed. Since it was included we had ordered the cheesecake for hubs and I fancied some Cranachan. Now for those who know cranachan is a traditional Scottish desert with fresh whipped cream mixed with a little whiskey some honey and gently twined around some fresh berries (usually raspberries) it then has a nice crispy note of toasted oatmeal with some brown sugar to provide a little crunchiness.
Sadly the Made in Belfast one was a waste of a canning jar. The oatmeal topping was heavy with ginger, no crunch whatsoever in fact it was pretty stale, the so-called “mulled” berries were super tart and desperately needed sweetness. There wasn’t a hint of cream, whiskey or honey to be tasted and on the side a rather poor vanilla ice-cream that tasted – well – simply average.
Hubs was so looking forward to his white chocolate and brownie cheesecake with coconut icecream and let’s put it this way there was no hint of any of those flavours in his cheesecake. The icecream was the same cheap vanilla that I had, in other words no distinctive flavour, as for the cheesecake a grocery store one would taste just as good. There was 3 pitiful pieces of honeycomb on top. Yes it was a cheesecake, yes it was quite smooth but flavour disappeared with the box it must have come in.
The meal came to just under £55 which wasn’t bad price-wise but would have been much better value if the standard had been up to what was claimed. Now I know it’s all relative in the end, my taste-buds are different from yours and food is a pretty subjective topic. What I hate you love and so on, but this just wasn’t up to the quality they promote and I expected. The restaurant has not earned its stars on either Tripadvisor or Google and we will not go back to Made in Belfast – to pay those kind of prices on our limited budget is just unacceptable.
We will continue to dine out in Belfast when the budget allows but we have to say we have had far better dinners at the Fish and Chip shop down the road for less than a tenner. Stay tuned for more reviews to come including: The Old Inn in Crawfordsburn, The Parisien Cafe across from City Hall and other restaurants around Belfast and the rest of N. Ireland.
If you are into music and not food then have a read of this piece on Music and Musical Tours of Ireland.
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