The Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast were kind enough to invite me in to try the new menu in their restaurant. The Fitzwilliam Hotel is a 5 Star hotel in Belfast City Centre. Fondly known in Belfast, ‘The Fitz’, it is located on Great Victoria Street just next to the iconic Grand Opera House. Making it the perfect base for any city centre activities. A short walk from anywhere you might want to visit.
The hotel is glamorously decorated throughout, from the lobby to the restaurant and every single room. Yet it retains a relaxed atmosphere. The staff are always happy to advise you on activities and places to visit during a stay.
Ryan McFarland is the Head Chef at The Fitzwilliam restaurant. He is a Belfast native who studied culinary arts at Belfast Institute of Technology. He has trained in many Michelin star restaurants in the UK and US, working under such celebrated chefs as Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay. So as you can imagine his menu is phenomenally well chosen.
The restaurant itself is beautifully decorated which oozes sophistication. Its subtle lighting and tastefully chosen furnishings make it an absolute pleasure to dine in. During our visit the waiter who was assigned to us at the beginning of the night was extremely attentive ensuring that our every request was taken care of including making perfect recommendations for food and the wine which would compliment it.
So lets take a look at what we choose to eat.
The first thing we were served upon arrival was a wonderful bread basket. This was filled with all homemade breads including sourdough, roasted red pepper bread and incredible wheaten. This was accompanied with two butters. A herb butter and a roasted pepper butter. The special note goes to the wheaten bread. Being Irish this is something which is eaten in great quantities regularly, and for good reason, it is delicious. However this wheaten probably beats all wheaten I have eaten before (sorry Granny!). Its texture was perfect being firm yet moist. The taste was subtly sweet which is the signature of a perfect wheaten recipe. I am determined to get this recipe.
For starter we ordered the Ham Hock and the Goats Cheese. The Ham Hock which was pressed Hannons sugar pit ham hock served with piccalilli puree, pea moose and sour dough. The ham was beautifully cured and pressed. It fell apart with the slightest touch of the fork. The piccalilli and pea moose both complimented the ham wonderfully in both taste and texture. I only wish the sour dough which was served with it was bread and not toasted. The Goats Cheese was a twice baked goats cheese souffle served with pickled red onion and rocket salad. The souffle was wonderfully light and airy but packed with flavour which was complimented perfectly by the pickled red onion.
For main we ordered the Jacobs Ladder and the Cod. The Jacobs Ladder was braised salt aged Jacobs Ladder served with horseradish croquette, pickled shallot, charred scallion, burnt onion and bone marrow crumb. This was one of the best cuts of beef we have had in Belfast. Simply beautifully cooked so that the bone slipped right off the piece of meat. The beef was melt in your mouth soft which is perfect for how this cut should be cooked. The accompaniments perfectly complimented the beef right down to the delicious bone marrow crumb which topped the dish. Every ingredient was perfectly chosen to compliment the dish.
The Cod was a pan roasted fillet of cod served with crushed new season comber potatoes, compressed fennel with spring greens. Again everything in this dish felt right. Everything complimented each other. The textures were sublime between the perfectly cooked tender cod fillet to the roughly crushed new season comber potatoes. Our waiter recommended our wine based on this dish. The recommendation was the beautiful Soave Denominazione Di Origine Controllata 2016.
For dessert we ordered the Pear and the Custard. I love the simplicity of the naming on the menu. It keeps it simple and simply tells you the main component of the dish in the title. Thus making it easier to choose without the titles being too wordy or confusing. The menu then provides more details of the dish in smaller print. The Pear was compressed pear served with rhubarb sorbet and coconut and almond. This was probably one of the nicest desserts we have tried in Belfast. The contracts of flavour and textures worked incredibly well. The rhubarb sorbet was beautifully sweet without being overpowering for the subtle flavours of the pear.
The Custard came in the form of a classic but perfectly executed custard tart with rum and raisin parfait. Being a huge fan of both these components of the dish I knew it was going to be a hit. The tart arrived ‘oven warm’ with perfect crisp and crumbly base and silky smooth custard filling. The rum and raisin parfait was perfectly paired with this dish. It’s flavours did nothing but compliment the flavours of the custard which is what every accompanying ingredient should do. Nothing more, nothing less.
The selection on the menu is perfectly curated to include something for everyones taste. I would have no difficulty visiting this restaurant more than once and ordering off the same seasons menu. There are multiple items I would love to try. A restaurant and menu of this quality makes writing reviews like this exceedingly easy as you are speaking directly from your heart. Ryan McFarland is doing a stirling job at ‘The Fitz’ and we hope that he continues to explore more local ingredients and incorporate them into his dishes. We will be back!