If you are after local, perfectly cooked meat and service with a smile (and who isn’t?), then you should make sure Marco Pierre White’s restaurant at Park Avenue Hotel is your next port of call.
Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill opened its first and only outlet in Northern Ireland in the four-star Park Avenue Hotel in October 2015.
Having visited the warm and welcoming establishment recently, I was unsurprised to learn that over the past three years, more than 50,000 diners have enjoyed the restaurant and continue to head ‘east’ for the unique experience.
In fact, what with Marco having hosted a meet and greet recently to launch his summer 2018 menu, it seems the not-so-hidden gem has benefited from a resurgance of foot traffic, as people are once again reminded that the city centre is not the only place foodies need venture into for a night of fine dining. Indeed, sitting in the restaurant on a buzzing ‘Fizz Friday’ evening (for £40 per person, diners can enjoy complimentary fizz until dessert is served every Friday in May), the atmosphere was electric. From birthday parties, to women enjoying a much-needed get together, to intimate couples and lone diners staying at the hotel for business, it was positively thriving.
Suffice to say, those content faces were certainly helped along not only by the friendly staff members who ensured our food and information was delivered with a smile, but also by the sheer quality of the food. With a name which aptly includes ‘Steakhouse’ in the title, those seeking succulent, mouth-watering steaks will certainly not be disappointed. Sourced from Rodgers Meats in Gilnahirk, I was amused to hear a diner behind me from England enthuse to Head Chef Eddie Patrick: “I have visited Marco Pierre White restaurants in England and the steaks were good - but not as good as they are here!” The talented Belfast chef, who has worked with the hotel for 30 years, laughed: “That’s because it’s from just down the road. You can’t get fresher than that.” That is certainly true; this is mouth-watering, fresh produce, cooked to perfection by Eddie and his team, and served, unfalteringly, with a smile.
If you want good honest, classic French dishes with a twist to tickle your taste buds, as well as contemporary cocktails, exclusive Marco Pierre White Wine and a great atmosphere, this is the place to go.
My Top Five Picks From A Fantastic Menu (in order of sevice):
1. Whilst Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse naturally boasts the very best local meat produce, the seafood is not to be outdone. Seared Sea Scallops with Black Pudding is a popular dish served on many Starter menus throughout NI, and there’s a reason for this. The perfect pairing, this delicious offering beat out its competitors.
2. Wheeler’s Crisy Calamari came highly recommend by friendly Restaurant Manager Lauren, cementing its already strong appeal. Complete with zesty Sauce Tartare and fresh lemon, this was an ideal Starter to whet the appetite, with its Mediterranean-influenced, light-as-a-feather batter coating highest quality squid cooked to perfection.
3. For Mains, the Roast Chateaubriand, 16oz for two, might sound costly at £59, but trust me when I say it was worth every single penny. Cooked to perfection to personal preference (medium pink, well-rested, no blood), Eddie’s decades of experience is reflected in every bite of this perfectly executed creation with succulent side selections.
4. Passionate restaurant manager Lauren explained to us that Marco Pierre White refuses to call his Cambridge Burnt Cream recipe (as it appears on the menu), the title of Crème brûlée, due to his staunch belief ‘the French stole the recipe from the English.’ Whatever its origin, Marco’s pasion for food is evident in every morsel of dessert.
5. The perfect way to wash down a heavenly three-course meal, the likes of which I have rarely experienced in my 27 years living in Northern Ireland, the Irish Coffee served as a brilliant post-meal treat to awaken the senses after splitting a refreshing, summery bottle of Prosecco in the sun-basked restaurant with panoramic views.