Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas 2011 - Northern Ireland

Day 2 - Dads birthday

Woke up at around 8.30am this morning. Weather cold but dry.

Dad cooked up a birthday breakfast for us both (Mum was working) with bacon, eggs and toast and after a session on the guitars we were out the door at about 11ish to catch the bus into Belfast.

On the agenda was a meet-up with Dad's mate Tom Melville, who was over from the USA.

We jumped off the bus on Adelaide Street and running behind schedule, we sped through the packed streets to make up time. Passing through the Christmas continental Market (pictured above), with a scent of roasted chestnuts hanging heavy in the crisp December air, we spotted Tom, shook hands and headed off in the direction of the Ivory restaurant for some lunch.

Perched at the top of the new Victoria Street shopping mall, the Ivory was modern and chic - and surprisingly empty on a working day lunchtime slot.

The views from the top were breathtaking, and I opted for the local ale battered haddock with mushy peas, tartare sauce and chips. What began with a coffee and chat quickly turned into a 3-pint job (pictured, right) and we had a good chinwag about soccer, the States and family.

Dad and I caught the bus home around 4pm, meeting up with Mum in Saintfield to head back out (again) to Nicks Warehouse restaurant in the Cathedral quarter of Belfast to celebrate Dad's birthday.

More liquid refreshments were in order but it was the food that stole the show - wonderful starters with warmed pitta bread and a trio of exquisitely zingy olive, garlic and humus dips followed by the most exquisitely tender steak, garlic-roasted chips, rocket and peppercorn sauce.

The history of the restaurant was fascinating too.

Neglected until 1989 as a red-bricked eye-sore and pigeon loft, crafty Nick spotted a business opportunity, capitalised on its good location and transformed it from derelict relic to delightful restaurant, preserving many of the old interior structures and large windows with dim-lighting - perfect for an elegant dining experience or special occasion.

After dining at Nicks, we headed home. Hit the sack about midnight.

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