We arrived at the top hotel in Belfast decided to take advantage of their special 3-cpurse meal (26.50pounds before 630pm, 29.50 after) in a gorgeous setting in THE GREAT ROOM (or entry lobby) of the renovated Ulster Bank which is now the Merchant Hotel. A huge dome and chandelier sit above the room with gidled walls, cherubs and tons of over-the-top décor that would definitely give it #1 setting in Northern Ireland for dining, but the food matched as well.
We ordered a bottle of 2011 Newton Johnson "Felicite" an unoaked Chardonnay form the Hemel en Aarde Valley in South Africa that was full of fruit flavors in the mouth and was simply perfect with my Seared Scallops with Garden Peas, Girolles, Summer Truffle and Gnocchi. The gnocchi were not listed on the menu, so I was not really happy as I didn't want pasta, but they were tasty and Samuel agreed; the rest of the dish was divine especially the girolles (chanterelles) and peas (the question is are English Peas called Irish or Northern Irish peas when over here in Ireland?). Will loved his Kilkeel Crab which I thought more tasty than the previous night as it had much less mayo and was served with avocado puree, Prawn Beignets, Pickled Cucumber & Quail Egg. Samuel loved his Local Tomato Vine Soup and went on to gobble up his main of Lough Erne Lamb Saddle with Asparagus, Violet Artichokes, Grelot Onions, Taggiasca Olives and Wild Rocket (arugula).
We moved on to a superb light red perfect for both the fish and duck. A 2012 Santenay AC 1er Cru from Jacques Girardin was just what we needed as it was now pouring and chilly out. Will chose the Hake with Comber Potatoes, Smoked Anchovies, Grelot Onions, Heritage (that's heirloom back home) Tomatoes and EVOO since I had loved my hake the night before. I went with the Skeaghanore Duck Breast & Leg, Peach Confit, Girolles (I can never get enough chanterelles) & Carrot which was superbly yummy and flavorful and quite tender as all the meat here has been.
Desserts were Profiteroles Swans with Warm Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream for Will (check FB) and Sam chose the superb Frozen Parfait of Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Macaroons. I had a yummy Peanut Butter Sponge Cake with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Caramelised Orange Gel.
We must also praise the delicious local RiverRock Sparkling water and the breads and butter everywhere.