Over the past few years I’ve been to Belfast on number of occasions and, much like anywhere I travel, sussing out where to eat is pretty much the top priority. Sad maybe, but true! Safe to say, Molly’s yard in the university quarter of Belfast has long been on the cards. The partnership with Hilden Brewery and, by extension, the extensive craft beer menu, may have had something to do with the praise my boyfriend showered on the place but, to give him credit, the food menu is a draw in its own right.
Tucked away in converted Victorian stables, this restaurant boasts ‘superior but unpretentious’ modern Irish cuisine. At my boyfriend’s recommendation Molly’s was booked to celebrate a certain big birthday in the family. Being a large party we were seated the length of the bright and lofty upper room under beams decked with fairy lights.
As always, being slightly food obsessed, I checked the menu ahead of time. Showcasing the quality of Irish produce with jazzed up classic cooking, the menu will likely leave you umming and ahhing. It certainly did me. Just when I thought I had my top choices, the tempting daily specials threw a spanner in the works…
The food was excellent, honest and hearty fare. I plumped for both specials in the end; confit duck leg with chorizo lentils followed by sea bass, celeriac dauphinnoise and red pepper pesto. The celeriac was a revelation, but lacked a little seasoning and the sea bass, hard to go wrong with, was scrumptious and well cooked. On a side note, try the wheaten bread. This dark slightly sweet bake with a distinctive flavour is one of my favourite treats when I come over to visit and Molly’s is fabulous slathered in butter.
Sadly I couldn’t justify a dessert with birthday cake in the pipeline and two slices of wheaten bread under my belt but some people squeezed it in and they looked tasty, if maybe not anything to write home about.
Service, generally was fine considering the size of the party if a little rushed. It’s never the nicest feeling when you’re paying a fair whack and there to celebrate to feel chivvied along. The long tables and the tight space weren’t ideal either for mingling but we managed none the less and a lovely evening was had by all.
Overall, Molly’s Yard qualifies as a typical example of the food revolution that has swept the capital in recent years with restaurants building their reputation by elevating classic cooking and flaunting the quality of local ingredients. Don’t expect fireworks, cooky flavour combinations or futuristic techniques at Molly’s but rather a satisfying and feel-good feast. In my opinion, Belfast is underestimated and underappreciated as a foodie destination though with the pace of change I doubt this will be the case for long.