Sunday, 14 October 2012

Bert's Bar

I spent a most enjoyable afternoon on Saturday at Bert's, the atmospheric and opulent art deco bar-restaurant of the Merchant Hotel, Belfast.

Bert's Bar is entered from the new section of the hotel at High Street, directly opposite St George's Church.

When I arrived I walked up to the bar counter and ordered a Tanqueray and tonic. I have to say they know how to serve their drinks here: The portions of ice and lemon or lime slices are impeccable.

I spotted the bar-man wearing metal elasticated arm-bands, of the type I inherited from my father. I wear them all the time.

I like Bert's. Indeed I like the grand Merchant.

I had time for another restorative before my friends arrived, when we all found a banquette at the window.

The menus arrived. We decided to have the set menu, which comprised a tempting selection of dishes.

I had the Waldorf salad, sea-bass and creme brulee; Amanda (Duchess of Calhame), the soup, beef bourguignon and sorbet; and I've forgotten what Chris had. Ha!

My Waldorf salad was good. The portion was fine for me, with the apple sculpted into little balls; plenty of walnuts, and a fine dressing.

The sea-bass was seated on top of basil mash, a remarkable green colour. It was quite delicious. I simply could not find any faults at all. Tip-top.

The Duchess's soup looked home-made, thick and nourishing. Her Grace's (!) beef bourguignon also looked irresistible, to such an extent that she passed me the remains of her unfinished helping, the soup course having satisfied her greatly.

I ate some of the beef and mash, the venerable nose-bag in overdrive by that stage.

Never let it be said that Timothy Belmont fails as a hearty enough trencherman in the race to the food-trough.

Puddings were, I must say, the calibre of the previous courses.

We had a bottle of white New Zealand wine with the meal.

We eventually took our leave and ambled over to a diminutive establishment in Skipper Street called The Spaniard.

It was quite crowded, and we made our way to the rear of the bar, where we chatted with a couple of "newly-weds". I drank Hendrick's and tonic, with a great chunk of cucumber; the Duchess had a cocktail; and Chris, Jack Daniel's and Coke; three drinks which set me back £20, including a tip.

We had another round prior to hailing a cab at Waring Street, which conveyed us to Madison's Hotel, Botanic Avenue, where we spent the remainder of the evening.

Her Grace and I got the train home, though she took the one going northwards, towards Calhame Manor. Chris stayed the night at Madison's.


PeterC said...

There was an article in the travel section of The Sunday Times today about how apps (iPhone / Android) were replacing traditional guide books. Interestingly, Belfast was chosen as the example. The conclusion was that local guides were better than national ones such as Lonely Planet and Rough Guides because of the rapidly changing eating scene in Belfast - so local guides were more up to date. Perhaps this is something you should be adding to your portfolio bearing in mind the large number of excellent restuarant reviews you have posted.

The Earl Bishop said...

It is a delightful hostelry and very well situated for the current incumbent of the Parish Church of St. George.

I must confess that I am rather fond of the Duke of York Public House. It seems to have preserved some old Belfast charm

Mad Mandy Moans said...

I had a wonderful day Tim. You looked spiffing and were oozing charm as always. My mushroom soup with sour dough bread was homemade, delicious and filling. Your sea bass with that amazing green basil mash was a delight for the eye as well as the palate. Christopher had the beef croutons with Bearnaise sauce and I can confirm that the beef was melt in the mouth as he let me sample it. I would have sampled your Waldorf but walnuts are the only nut I cannot abide. My beef bourguignon was rich and wholesome although the beef was a tad tough for me. I like it melt in the mouth. Chris had the chicken chasseur with dauphinoise potatoes. The puddings were my highlight. Your creme brulee looked perfect but I was so engrossed with my desert I had no desire to try it. Chris had this wonderful looking chocolate cake with hot chocolate sauce and lavender ice cream. My lemon posset with raspberry sorbet was orgasmic. The wine was a white Pinot Grigio with a hint of pink named Ned from a winery in the Antipodes. I could have faced another bottle. Hic!
The Spaniard is a jewel. Not unlike a Taverna in the mountains of Andalucia. Pity the barkeeps don't speak basic Spanish but one can't have everything. Adious Amigo. Mx

Timothy Belmont said...

Thanks for filling me in, as ever, Mandy; and thanks for a wonderful day.

I simply could not recall all the details.