Lorna and I hadn’t seen each other in years. I spent my high school summers working at a camp in Ontario’s cottage country with the bubbly Belfast native and was thrilled to give her a big hug at my hotel before running to dinner in search of a fine feast. The Giro d’Italia was in full swing and the streets in Belfast were packed with pink as a roaring audience cheered on each cyclist as they zipped by. Lorna and I headed towards the Cathedral Quarter for dinner and while skipping on the sidewalk I couldn’t help but laugh at the chaotic party we had to weave ourselves through.
Nestled between Hill St and Donegall, Hadskis sits at the prominent entry of Belfast’s Commercial Court. In 1760, Stewart Hadskis opened an iron foundry here specializing in the production of pots and pans. The business was carried out by the family until 1798 and in keeping with the rich history of the building, Hadskis restaurant was born to serve it forth.
The restaurant is right in the heart of Belfast’s pub-town, surrounded by some of the city’s top watering holes. At night locals spill onto the cobblestone street, pints sloshing with smug mugs. The space features an open kitchen where diners interested in seeing their meals come to life can prop themselves on stools and offer a thankful wink to the kitchen brigade. Alternatively, a petite dining room featuring floor to ceiling windows offers a more intimate setting with the opportunity to street side people watch.
After plopping ourselves at a comfy bench Lorna and I fingered our way through the menu. I started things off with a bottle of Titanic Quarter Pale Ale, a perfect celebration of the city’s shipping heritage and my own enthusiasm for thirst quenching craft beer. The malty ale offered a perfect contrast to a wee ramekin filled with salty smoked almonds.
Over the course of the next two hours a parade of plates whisked themselves under our noses. I quickly devoured my first two selections; the first featuring ham hock, crispy bacon and chickpea and second a confit of duck adorned with pickled vegetables and sweet caramelized plum dressing. Next up were two steaming bowls of hand-rolled pasta; orecchiette with spiced sausage and wee trofie tossed in wild mushroom and pecorino. While sipping through a classic cucumber gimlet I twiddled my thumbs with regards to what treat should provide the sweet finish to my feast. I took my final bow at Hadskis in front of a fresh-out-of-the-oven rhubarb and apple crumble muddled in cool cream.
Titanic Quarter Pale Ale
gin, sugar, cucumber, lime
Ham Hock, Bacon and Chickpea
Confit of Duck, Pickled Vegetables, Caramelized Plum Dressing
Orecchiette with Spiced Sausage
Trofie Pasta with Wild Mushroom and Pecorino
Classic Burger and Chips
Rhubarb and Apple Crumble