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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Drink Up and Rock Out in Belfast

2. Where to Eat

Dine and drink among young Belfast media types at Howard St.  

Follow the media crowd to Howard St., which opened last year, doling out traditional dishes with a modern spin in a quiet area of town known for its top-notch restaurants (James Street South and Deane’s, to name two). The warm, simple dining room with brick walls and exposed fixtures sets the amiable atmosphere. Start with one of the hearty appetizers, like crispy chili beef with lime mayonnaise ($12), then try a main of smoked haddock with a red prawn curry ($24.50) or pork belly, which comes with Irish accoutrements like black pudding and a crispy cake made from champ (mashed potatoes with spring onions mixed in) ($25.50). Fuel up for the evening with a Maid in Brazil cocktail, made with passion-fruit cachaca, lime, and egg white ($11.50).

Try some of the most innovative food in the city at year-old Ox. The dining room, a high-ceilinged space illuminated by a plate glass window facing the River Lagan, is presided over by chef Stephen Toman, who sources local and seasonal ingredients like seaweed butter, parsley root, sorrel, and turnip leaf for his tightly edited menu, turning out dishes like broad bean and nettle soup ($7.50) and Chateaubriand with hops, smoked potato, and ox tongue ($36). Businessmen bring clients here to show off, but don’t let the expense-account set and their discussions of the merits of the gin menu (with specimens from Northern Ireland, Germany, and France) stop you from enjoying the city’s most forward-thinking food.

Rethink poultry in a stylish setting at Le Coop, which opened in the city’s Cathedral Quarter in November of 2013. It’s a rotisserie-chicken joint (American food, including Southern barbecue, is trending in Belfast) from the team behind Made in Belfast, which was at the forefront of the sustainable food movement in the city and is located just a couple of minutes away. Sit down in a plastic folding chair at a chipboard table and peruse the menu of free-range chicken in all forms, from whole rotisserie birds glazed with honey butter ($33) to “smelly” garlic wings ($15.50). In a nod to trailer-park chic, be sure to order the frozen French martini, a “slushie” made with Chambord, gin, raspberry, and pineapple ($5.75).

Published on Oct 30, 2014 as a web exclusive.