With Belfast Restaurant Week 2020 just around the corner (February 17-23) - an event which allows diners to enjoy two courses for £15 at over 40 restaurants across the city - we have compiled a list of seven eateries offering dinner for two for under £30 all year round. Meaning that even when Restaurant Week is over, you can still enjoy a dinner date at #belfastrestaurantweek prices.
Coppi, Saint Anne’s Square, Cathedral Quarter, Belfast
Known for their unique blend of local ingredients with contemporary Italian cuisine, Coppi may seem like a high-end restaurant with its ideal location in Belfast’s bustling Cathedral Quarter, however, a look over the menu reveals just how far your money will go in this lavish eatery. Being next door to The Mac, Coppi is a great pre-theatre option, whilst the open kitchen and cocktail bar add an element of extravagance to the experience. Their famous Cichetti, a sort of Italian style tapas, can be ordered as starters or shared, with 5 plates costing only £17.50. Recommended are the enticingly crunchy and delectably sweet truffle and honey feta fritters, or the crisp and zingy fresh crab salad, both only £4 each. Aside from the sharing plates, diners can enjoy the six-inch pizzettas – thin, crisp Venetian style pizzas, all only £6.50 each, or a more filling pasta/risotto, priced at a reasonable £13.50-£17, featuring local ingredients like Portavogie prawns and seasonal vegetables.
Kathmandu Kitchen, Botanic Avenue, Belfast
A cosy family run restaurant at the edge of Botanic, Kathmandu Kitchen serves up Indian and Nepalese food in a relaxing atmosphere. It’s a place where it pays to be adventurous as the menu goes beyond the standard offerings of an Indian restaurant to include unique Nepalese dishes like spicy Momo dumplings and creamy Nepalese curry. Nothing is too much hassle for the attentive staff, and they are happy to tailor your meal to your tastes, which is great news for those for whom spice can be an issue. Starter sharing platters, which include a selection of either vegetarian or meat starters like pakoras, momos, bhajis, kebabs and samosa’s cost only £7.95 which leaves lots left over to enjoy a fulfilling main. If you’re happy to cut out the meat, all main courses will cost only £8.95 in their vegetable option, whilst chicken options come in at £9.95. Sides, like the subtly spiced mutter paneer, a surprisingly tasty combination of cheese and peas, will fill you up for only £4.95 apiece.
Macu, Ormeau Road, Belfast
Open everyday expect Monday, Macu is a busy, casual restaurant in which diners can enjoy a classic Chinese menu with a contemporary spin. Open late into the evening, Macu is a great option for those who’ve finished up after work drinks with time to spare, or theatre-goers looking for something to eat to continue the evening’s festivities. The classic king prawns with chilli salt starter costs £6 whilst the Chinese favourite sticky spare ribs will set you back only £5.80. If stir-fry i s your go-to, with the exception of the seafood stir fry at £11, 11 options on Macu’s diverse menu come in at under £10. For the more adventurous diner, the Singaporean vermicelli, £7.50 or Chef’s Recommendation of stuffed aubergine with prawn paste, £11.50, can be made mild or spicy upon request. All side orders in Macu cost less than £4, meaning any meal, large or small, can be bulked out with soft noodles and crispy beansprouts, £3.60 or the simple yet timeless Chinese mainstay, egg fried rice for £2.60.
Bo Tree Thai, University Avenue, Belfast
This trendy laid-back joint may look more like a café than a restaurant at first glance but try popping in without a reservation and you’ll be sorry you underestimated it. Popular with students and staff from the nearby Queen’s University, Bo Tree Thai provides exquisite Thai cuisine at a bargain price and as it has a Bring Your Own policy, it’s a budget favourite on our list. There isn’t a meal on the menu that costs over £9 and sharing of dishes is encouraged, meaning a table of two can enjoy two starters like the delicious Popia Thod, crispy spring rolls filled with noodles and mixed vegetables or Thai classic, Pak Chup, tempura vegetables with a sweet chilli dipping sauce for £4.95 each and two mains, such as the sizzling Mu Pad Ped, stir fried pork at £7.65 or the fresh, creamy, nutty tastes of the Gaeng Massaman, for £7.85, and still have money to spare to pick up a bottle of wine on the way in. Another kitchen happy to cook to your needs, requesting mild or spicy dishes is no issue for this welcoming family run operation, whilst the spice scoring system on the menus helps any novice feel equipped to make a satisfying order.
Holohan’s at the Barge, Lanyon Place, Belfast
It doesn’t get more Northern Irish than enjoying a meal on the Lagan River, surrounded by breath-taking views of the city and the countryside beyond. Holohan’s at the Barge, a family run restaurant set in a barge moored next to the Waterfront Hall, whose sister restaurant sits opposite Queen’s University, puts Northern Irish produce, dishes and tastes at the core of what they do, albeit with a modern twist. Local favourites, like Fermanagh Boxty get an update when served with golden butternut squash and a rich parmesan and herb oil, whilst seared scallops are paired with balsamic for a tangy take on a local classic, costing £16 and £12 respectively.
No Northern Irish menu would be complete without cheap and cheerful £3.50 sides of champ and buttered veg. The seasonal aspect of Holohan’s cooking means that the menu is set to change at various times throughout the year, meaning there is always something new to be discovered upon every visit.
Home, Wellington Place, Belfast
Priding themselves on serving the best in fresh, local and seasonal food, Home Belfast’s motto of ‘Feel Good Food’ is more than justified upon reviewing their extensive menu. Catering to a range of dietary requirements, whilst not letting their standard menu fall behind, Home can provide a vegetarian, gluten free and vegan menu for diners. As with many others on the list, when aiming to eat on a budget it pays to share and one shouldn’t feel embarrassed to order the selection of starters, costing a mere £13.75 – in the form of a mezze platter – as a main meal in this friendly café come restaurant.
Mains include a range of pastas and salads, burgers and curries, all vegetarian and well-priced, with the most expensive, the salt and chilli tofu setting foodies back £13.95, whilst the light yet filing carrot, beetroot and red lentil burger is surely one to sink your teeth into at only £12.75, including fries. Sides like the super salad and sweet potato fries, all only £3.75 each, make for a cost-effective way to turn into a main the sharing platter or other starter options.
Hadski’s, Commercial Court, Belfast
Part of the James Street & Co group, which own and run two other locations in the city, James Street South Restaurant and The Bar and Grill at James St, Hadski’s is a more budget friendly option whilst remaining, very much, a fine dining establishment.
The rich, decadent, multi-layered flavours of their signature Jerusalem artichoke soup with truffle oil costs a not-so-opulent £5 as a starter, and the locally sourced celeriac risotto with watercress & pickled apple will barely dent the wallet at £13.50. With fish/meat options always costing extra, recommend is cod with mussels, chickpeas, cauliflower and curry cream, £18.50 for those seeking a more challenging pallet, or the rustic pheasant, smoked black pudding, savoy and crispy ham, priced at a feasible £17. Hadski’s also offer an Early Bird Menu from Monday to Wednesday 5pm – 6.30pm, which is worth checking out for up to date information on their current prices.