Eating Out: Shed far from common or garden
467 Ormeau Road
028 9064 2630
EATING out is not just about the food but also the ambience, service and of course the company.
My babies aren't babies anymore and therefore snatching a few hours over dinner is about the only time we get to really chat these days. So, my middle born and I, and at a place of her choosing, met up on a Thursday evening for much needed catch up.
She, having been fully indoctrinated into life in south Belfast during her student years, had suggested Shed Bistro on the Ormeau Road. I'd heard good things and so booked earlier that day, given its apparent popularity.
And it was as well I did because this is a small, but incredibly busy little restaurant.
We were sat at a table just facing the open kitchen and greeted with a friendly nod by the chef who was busy doing his thing.
The menu is incredibly impressive for such a small bistro and carried an incredible range of produce, the type of which you would expect in a larger, high-end restaurant.
Lamb sheekh kebab and Vietnamese-inspired duck leg were discussed but then bypassed in favour of a curious-sounding crayfish popcorn with cornbread and Cajun mayonnaise and the seared scallops with a red lentil dhal.
The dish full of crispy battered crayfish was matched with the soft cornbread, great flavour and texture. My scallops were seared on the outside soft on the inside, the dhal was spicy and came with pea shoots for freshness.
Chat flowing and daughter on the vino while I was stuck with water, we turned to mains. Being able to watch the kitchen action I could see the roast Monaghan chicken and fillet steak with prawns were popular choices. However, the daughter was obsessing over the maple and bourbon glazed pork belly and I wanted to stay with a fishy theme and ordered Madras spiced cod.
Granted, when it came my main was remarkably similar to my starter but that didn't matter – a generous piece of fish, soft in the middle with crisp skin was served with a courgette pakora, mussels and an apple and curry sauce.
It was fabulously flavoured, every mouthful bringing something new to the party; soft, crispy, sweet, sour and hot, it covered every taste sensation.
The pork belly came with puréed yams, candied pecans and cavolo nero. These accompaniments were all delicious if not very rich but the belly was incredibly fatty – and, yes, I know pork belly is a fatty cut of meat but this could have been rendered down slightly more than it was.
The tables around us were all full and the atmosphere was great and as we were having such a good time we had a look at the dessert menu.
The daughter is impersonating a good Catholic at the minute and is off sweets for Lent, so she went for the cheese board while my diet hit the skids and I had the fabulously retro-sounding pineapple upside down cake with rum and ice cream.
Even writing about it my mouth is watering. The spiced, soft, sticky cake was beyond amazing, as was the ice cream. I can think of few things in life that taste that good.
The cheese board and crackers had a really good selection of hard, soft, smoked and blue cheese. I'd have liked it to come with some kind of explanation of what the cheeses were, some provenance, rather than the game of guess the fromage we played.
Shed is a popular wee spot and it's easy to see why, I'll be back but next time I'll make sure someone else is driving so I can give the wine list a good talking to.
Cheese board £6.75
Pineapple cake £5.95
Glass wine X 3 £15