Sunday, 2 February 2020

Holohan's & QFT

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The drive to University Square was, thank goodness, uneventful last night, unlike Christmas Eve, when somebody slammed into the back of my car as I was en route to the annual carol service at Belfast Cathedral.

I managed to find a space about half-way along the Square, the finest mid-Victorian terrace in the city of Belfast.

A number of surgeons and physicians had their consulting-rooms here about fifty years ago.

University Square now belongs to Queen's University, and the Queen's Film Theatre (QFT) is located at number 20.

As it transpires, it was quite prudent to purchase a ticket for The Lighthouse online, because a notice-board stated that they were sold out.

Holohan's Pantry, February, 2020

Having parked, I walked towards University Road, crossed to the other side, and made a bee-line for Holohan's Pantry restaurant at number 43.

I'm wondering if Holohan's is developing this entire terrace, which dates from ca 1870.

It was known as Prospect Terrace.

This was my first visit to Holohan's, so I was looking forward to it.

I wasn't disappointed.

This is a small restaurant, quite narrow in width, though it stretches back a fair distance.

I was early, so it was still quiet when I arrived.

Calvin Holohan greeted me himself and showed me to a little table tucked away nicely at the back.

It formed part of the banquette seating which surrounds two of the walls.

My first impression of it all is good: comfortable seating, abundant cushions, some wooden panelling, distinctive paintings and so on.

The menu is clear, straightforward and concise, too.

It's not too large, to its credit, and has a balanced menu comprising the best of local produce.

I imagine that, if there is a signature dish, it has to be the Boxty, a traditional potato pancake.

Before I ordered Calvin told me a bit about his career and times in Dublin and County Mayo; and his schooldays at Kylemore Abbey.

The first course arrived, I suppose, within five to ten minutes.

This was the Portavogie prawns with coleslaw and and alioli.

The little prawns were lightly battered in, perhaps a sort of tempura manner, sitting on top of the salad.

Everything was light and delicious.

The alioli was lightly flavoured with garlic.

Not long afterwards the main course arrived: the Holohan's Pan Boxty, which was filled with large chunks of succulent smoked haddock and salmon in a rich sauce.

It came with seasonal vegetables, one of which looked like curly parsley.

Was it kale?

Seafood Boxty

Nevertheless, it was all delicious and I cleaned my plate, as it were.

The Boxty, by the way, is reminiscent of a crêpe, except that it's made of potato.

If you like potato bread or farls, you'll enjoy it.

Unfortunately I hadn't enough room for a full pudding, so decided to settle up and leave.

I'll certainly be back to Holohan's, as I told Calvin, a great and worthy host, and the charming staff.


THE QFT is a mere hop, skip and jump from Holohan's, though I had a bit of time to kill so I ventured into the main bar of Duke's Hotel, called The Practitioner.

The Lighthouse began at ten past eight, so, having had a coffee, I found a seat and made myself comfortable.

The Lighthouse is not a conventional film.

For a start, it's made in black-and-white, and in the old 'box' style as opposed to wide-screen.

The first impression was that it could have been made in another era, though of course the sound and picture quality, and special effects were state-of-the-art.

This movie has been described as a psychological horror film.

It's brutal, and the characters (a cast of two) are coarse and vulgar, particularly the head keeper, the self-righteous Thomas Wake, who farts, bombasts, and bullies his subordinate (Ephraim Winslow).

These were powerful performances by Robert Pattinson (Ephraim) and Willem Dafoe (Thomas).

The theme is essentially about the relationship between the two, and the circumstances which led to their madness and destruction.

Much has already been written about the film, so I shan't elaborate any further.

I enjoyed it, though wouldn't advise Auntie Nellie to go, as it were.

It's definitely not for those of a sensitive or nervous disposition.

1 comment :

Gordon Dudgeon said...

Boxty is rarely heard off in the North outside of Fermanagh. My mother in law from Tyrone has never heard if it. Also Consumed widely in Leitrim Sligo and Mayo. The best I have had was made in Leitrim which I bought recently in a butchers in a Shopping Centre on the Saintfield rd.