Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Panda Encounter

I phoned up Alden's Restaurant yesterday in order to reserve a table for my birthday next month. I enjoyed a good lunch at their city branch during the summer; and it's ages since we last ate at their main restaurant.

Last night I met up with an old school chum, Pete, at the Odyssey Pavilion in Belfast. Despite there being an ice hockey match, the ambiance in the pavilion was subdued and quiet - no buzz about that huge Mecca of entertainment at all.

We dined at the Red Panda Chinese restaurant on the first floor, which was certainly doing a steady trade. Although the outside seating was empty, the restaurant was moderately full; though we were shown to a table immediately.

We shared a starter of shredded crispy duck with very thin pancakes, finely cut celery - was it celery? - and a sort of hoisin sauce. You make it up yourself by placing the ingredients inside the open pancake and rolling the lot up. This was very tasty indeed.

Pete had chicken with chili and honey sauce; while I ate the chicken with Peking sauce. My meal was, ironically, hotter than Pete's! I wondered whether they'd brought me the wrong dish, because any Chinese meal I've had with Peking sauce is usually sweet, rather than hot. I still enjoyed it, though.

The portions were fine; the bill, including two drinks and coffees, came to about £40.

The atmosphere in the Red Panda was quite jolly, there being a birthday party.

Pete was telling me about the neighbours beside his old family home on the road into Donaghadee in County Down - the road which looks on to the Copeland Islands. Seemingly the neighbour is a wealthy "builder" (read developer) and Pete initially wondered whether they were building a small hotel! It's no hotel: it's their residence. And it boasts a heli-pad; and a games-room with a billiards table at one corner of the room. It appears that this chap owns - or partly owns - a race-horse called Monty's something-or-other which won a few races.


Sandy said...

Many happy returns for your forthcoming birthday. I assume it is a big one, as mine occurs in January and we are "of an age".
I have no idea what to do about mine. When I had some money (ie last year) I wanted to go to SA or suchlike with the family. That is now off (or perhaps on hold!). I have always wanted to visit BC in Canada, but January is the wrong time of year.
Maybe a meal is not a bad idea, but who of my friends to ask and who not too? Fraught with difficulty.
Maybe if I ignore it it will be forgotten about!

Timothy Belmont said...

Thanks, Sandy. I haven't a clue about these sorts of "social" things, e.g. do I organize it all myself, or does someone else?

To be truthful we, as a family, never "went in" for birthdays much, at least my parents didn't.

As you say, some folks have large, close family circles of friends etc and do something special, like a dinner in the Ritz; or a trip to some exotic place.

I've booked a table at Alden's but, other that that, nothing! Sad, isn't it?


Sandy said...

I think a special evening with people you value is a great idea. Buy the wines you wouldn't normally and go for it.
I differ in having two teenage children, so they may have different ideas (probably involving Disney!)
Disappointment looms for them, I fear.

Stephen said...

Sandy, January is a great time to visit BC if you want to see the mountains in all their snowy majesty. If you are planning in taking your children, the more the better- stick them in snowboard school. Complicating things, though, is the Winter Olympics, at Whistler BC- though there are fine resorts in the interior, near Kelowna.