Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Birthday Dinner

Don't have your birthday in December. The weather is inclement; the days short; and, if you are young, your birthdays presents occasionally "double up" as Christmas gifts, too.

I'm beyond caring about the latter. We dined, yesterday evening, at Alden's Restaurant in Belfast. It is ten years since we last ate there, so a visit was long overdue.

Beware: parking is difficult. There is a single yellow line outside Alden's with a notice which states that parking is prohibited between 7am and midnight, or thereabouts. Parking is available in the side streets, round the corner.

Service at Alden's is efficient and courteous, as you'd expect. We were shown to our table forthwith. Ambiance is contemporary; the walls are off-white; and the seating a mixture of maroon banquette and armless cushioned chairs.

In a previous incarnation, this premises had been a grocer's shop or supermarket forty years ago.

We were served about three or four pieces of fresh, thinly-sliced bread - possibly home-made - with butter and chopped olives; and this was good.

I ordered a half-bottle of Sancerre wine from the extensive wine-list. I proceeded to order the roasted pigeon breast with crisp pancetta, black pudding and beetroot dressing for my first course. The Dowager opted out.

By the way, game features strongly on the menu. I thoroughly enjoyed my pigeon, feeling that the black pudding and beetroot dressing complemented it well.

For our main course, the Dowager went for the pan-seared salmon with asparagus and pea emulsion; while I had the breast of pheasant with spiced red cabbage and blue cheese gratin. We shared a special mashed potato and mixed vegetables consisting of fine beans, carrot, peas and broccoli.

Once again, we both enjoyed our food. The plates weren't particularly hot, though the food was warm enough. My pheasant was delicious. You are advised that it is normally served slightly pink, though I didn't notice any pinkness myself. No matter, it was very good.

I indulged in egg nog brûlée for pudding. I felt, personally, that this was the weakest link. It wasn't creamy enough for me; slightly bland. The top seemed cold, as if it hadn't been under the grill long enough. Acceptable enough, though.

We rounded the evening off with coffee and this came with complimentary truffles. Incidentally, it was busy in this restaurant; not too crowded, but busy enough. most tables were occupied within our eyesight.

All in all, an enjoyable evening.


Peregrine's Bird Blog said...

Sounds like a nice meal!!

Have a great christmas. We will have to meet up sometime in the new year.

Timothy Belmont said...

It was very good indeed, Craig.

The owner is a nice chap; he helped my mother out to the car afterwards.

Good idea about meeting in the new year.

Hoping you have a great Christmas with plenty of fine food & drink,


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