The Pots and Pans Have Come Home - Hadskis, Belfast
Hadskis is based in heart of the Cathedral Quarter, although when I parked up on the main road I didn't realise this - I was struggling with my bearings having not spent a lot of time in Belfast.
An industrial facade from the very ordinary front road looks very uninspiring and then you realise that spans down the lane. The gateway to the cobbled streets has some detailed music inspired murals, hip bars, funky coffee shops and a host of design companies. I started to recall wandering down the alleys a few years previously on a stag playing bar golf. (don't ask - we dressed as golfers and has a score card in each bar, drinks and challenges). Lets just say we were a hit and the following week a lot more lads were dressing like Rory and Tiger in Belfast City. Anyhow back to my lunch!
Hadskis has a nice story to it - in 1760 the building was used to make pots and pans by Stewart Hadski. Now the pots and pans are back and boy are they being put to good use. The restaurant is set up with a main dining area and a dining bar where you can watch the cooks at work. I love to watch well-run kitchens at work it makes me get a sense of how they work and how they care for their produce. Seeing the amount of pans on show brought the 255 year old legend of the site to life. You couldn't have a better story for a restaurant.
It was a late lunch for us on a Tuesday in order to avoid being spotted as high end reviewers. My guest today was my colleague, Ed. Ed and myself ordered from both menus - not suspicious at all! Luckily, the local TV presenter meeting his producers kept the limelight off us. We also had amount of choices from the menu. I had heard Hadskis was famous for its steak for 2 people - a côte de boeuf and a t-bone on offer at £55. So a bit of a treat but definitely not something I could justify at lunch time.
I did note that this restaurant has some interesting deals.. Monday night they do a great value tasting menu with wine matching, it seemed like good value. Apparently they also do a mighty brunch. They had a £6.50 value lunch menu which, based on the venue, seemed like a great deal. If I was one of the designers up the road I'd be making it a regular on my lunch circuit.
I decided upon a starter of crispy squid, pork belly and ceviche. This dish was picture perfect, the crispy squid was executed well and certainly crispy. The pork belly was a sizeable portion, good fat layers in a cube format but the ceviche, I believe, was just a dressing with capers. In fairness, it was a good dish, but no need to add ceviche to the name. However, restaurant owners please note: as an island boy I like to see more ceviche on Irish menus.
There are two dishes (aside from the meat feast for two) that the restaurant prides themselves with. My research was based on the chat with the very friendly and helpful waitress - Whole Salt Baked Seabream with Lemon and a Bacon, Egg and Chips.
Intrigued by the surroundings and lack of pictures on the menus, you know the ones that you see in the less stylish continental holiday resorts with images of greasy egg, chips and beans on them, I thought it had to be a special dish. It takes balls to put such a simple dish on the menu. This blew my expectations of what bacon, egg and chips could be. I am not the biggest fan of pork however I would definitely order this cut of pork with a large egg on top again, if the opportunity arose. It was thick, juicy and moreish and I will search for this prime cut of bacon, similar to a ribeye on the bone forevermore. A well balance jus made this dish praise the pig in glory.
Happy with my choices Ed had sampled the Trofie Pasta, Pear, Spinach & Pecorino which was very cheesy. He described it as tasty but also did comment that he thought ordering pasta was a healthy choice! It's the kind of dish you might have to fuel the second half of your day when skiing - warming and satisfying. This dish was available as a main too, however the starter portion had enough cheese and sauce to peak cholesterol levels so you'd have to balance the main with a hefty salad.
He also got stuck into the Baked Egg and Mushroom which was on the £6.50 lunch menu. Both Ed and the waitress struggled with the concept of a baked egg, but guys it is what it is - it's baked! It was served hot, with a nice tangy salad underneath.
With the day that was in it (Pancake Tuesday!) we splurged on crepes. The desert menu had a selection of pies and was very tempting but the waiter (the waitress was on her lunch) sold us on the two best types - rhubarb and custard crepes and chocolate and vanilla crepes. I took on the rhubarb and custard. The chilled custard ice cream was a desert in its own right but I live with a professional crepe creator so it is hard to beat her creations, and the pancake was a little thinker than I like them.
The team were top notch and I could see this spot being a great way to start a weekend, wander around the pubs surrounding and slowly work you way back there for bacon and eggs for a Sunday brunch cure. It's a top spot that I highly recommend for local and visitor alike!