Eating Out: Shelter from the storm
43 University Road
028 9543 4120
THE start of December is always a bit miserable. The weather sucks, it's too early to get all festive, the sales haven't started yet so shopping seems premature and the Christmas dinners have yet to kick of in earnest.
Taking all that into account, I'd also a head cold that'd been lingering about for the past two weeks and felt in need of a home-cooked 'mummy' dinner and a hug. Unfortunately that wasn't to be because my mother is in Spain with the grey army enjoying winter sunshine, chilled Cava and paella.
I'd seen an article a while ago about Holohan's, who offer traditional Irish fare, opening a new restaurant in south Belfast and so it seemed the ideal opportunity to check it out.
There is already a Holohan's at the Barge that sits on the Lagan and has received great reviews so I had high hopes.
With Storm Desmond making it even more miserable than usual, I wasn't for parking too far away so circled the block a few times.
We lucked out when a van pulled out of a space in the adjoining street and high-fived at our good fortune.
It mattered not as the rain and wind were so heavy that we were still drenched by the time we fell through the doors of Holohan's newest restaurant in University Road.
We were greeted at the small front bar area by a really friendly young fella who was like a ray of sunshine in the December gloom.
He walked us down to the restaurant at the rear full of chat and suggested a table in the corner as it would be cosier given what an awful day it was. A nice, thoughtful touch.
Holohan's is decorated like your granny's living room crossed with a bar in rural Donegal, although it isn't overdone enough to be Irish theme-park-like. The menu is really basic but yummy-sounding, homely food.
We got drinks, water for me wine for the passenger. I felt the need for good old-fashioned stodge and was tempted to peak early with a turkey dinner but, it being traditional cuisine, the boxty of the day appealed.
I've had the potato pancakes and few times in the past and always been pleased with the results.
On the day we visited it was ham hock and mustard boxty, which sounded great.
We also ordered a featherblade of slow braised beef with mash.
I panic ordered a side of chunky chips because I was afraid the boxty wouldn't be a big enough hit of carbs and we sat back and waited, and waited and waited.
There was another table of four suits on a business lunch and family at the back of the dinning room but part from that it wasn't busy.
Had it been dinner I'd have kicked back and ordered a few drinks and the wait wouldn't have given me any bother.
But it was lunch and I'd to get back to work.
When our food did eventually arrive it was delicious. The boxty was stuffed full of soft salty ham and mustard sauce, the potato pancake was soft and delicious.
It came served with beautifully cooked and seasoned heritage carrots and long-stemmed broccoli.
The blade of beef was rich and slow cooked, with creamy mash and more of the delicious veg.
The entirely unnecessary chunky chips were in fact potato wedges and nice but not needed as there was loads of food on the plate.
It was the kind of meal that would make you feel nostaligic, with a real family Sunday dinner vibe to the place.
I would have loved a coffee and a dessert, a nice brownie or a burnt lemon cheesecake that caught my eye on the menu but because our mains took so long I had to leave it and go back outside to weather the storm.
Holohan's has a lovely atmosphere and would be a great place for leisurely family meal – they just need to step up the pace a little.
Boxty of the day £6.50
Blade of beef £9.50
Large glass of la Serre £5.60