The Restaurant at Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast

After slugging through a whirlwind tour of Belfast on less than three hours of sleep I flopped into my big comfy bed at the Fitzwilliam Hotel in an attempt to catch my breath. My eyes were sore, head ached and wrists were weak. After loitering in a hot shower I tossed my wet hair behind my robe and mouthed the words “I’m hungry” into the bathroom mirror.

Moments later I pranced out of the elevator and whisked myself through The Restaurant. While the name of the hotel’s dining room might be understated its interior is anything but. The Restaurant at the Fitzwilliam Hotel plays with the ideas of openness and enclosure – its three distinct rooms lined with dining booths and divided by rotating oak mobiles – dynamic screens which diners can spin to open up sneaky views into the neighbouring booth, or close to provide total privacy. Each of the three rooms has a pair of oak refectory tables at the centrepiece above which hang large, bespoke feature pendants.

I was seated in the centre of the dining room and over the course of the next hour The Restaurant filled with wildly attractive Italians. It was the eve of the Gior d’Italian Big Start in Belfast and many of the races Italian delegates and management were staying at the hotel. Several times I had to hold my breath, be still my heart as some of the most handsome Italiano’s pranced about the room excitedly to kiss kiss their comrades. People watching at its best while sipping a Lady Nunez cocktail spiked with gin, gundpowder tea and fresh cucumber.

Over the next two hours a parade of plates whisked themselves under my nose. Asparagus wrapped in sourdough crumbs were a perfect pairing for crispy lardon, parmesan, oozing poached egg and rich hollandaise. Once the cocktail ran dry I ordered a glass of Belfast Lager which I sipped through while nibbling away at a plump confit duck leg “Scotch Egg.” The main event was an unforgettable himalayan salt aged beef sirloin served with classic Irish accompaniments; roast plum tomato, field mushroom, triple cooked chips, french fried onions and peppercorn cream.

My eyes glazed over from sleepless exhaustion meets food feast overload but found the energy and stamina to indulge in a sweet Toffee and Date Pudding before making my exit. I gracefully walked over to the elevator, excited to hit the hay but quickly glanced backward to a table full of studly cyclists and mouthed the words “now that’s what I call a marathon!”

The Feast:

Lady Nunez

plymouth gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon, gomme syrup, grapefruit, gunpowder tea, cucumber

Belfast Lager

Asparagus in Sourdough Crumb

crispy bacon lardon, parmesan, poached egg, hollandaise

Confit Duck Leg “Scotch Egg”

celeriac two ways, white truffle oil

Himalayan Salt Aged Beef Sirloin

roast plum tomato, field mushroom, triple cooked chips, french fried onions, madagascan peppercorn cream

Toffee and Date Pudding

caramel sauce, honey comb, vanilla ice cream

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