Eating Out: Freight is serious about its food without taking it too seriously
CS Lewis Square
402 Newtownards Road
028 9046 3828
IT SHOULDN’T, because Freight is serious about its food without taking it too seriously, but it comes as a surprise that, when our brunch is set down in front of us, it comes on plates.
Everything before that, from the mini DJ booth in front of the tiny open kitchen blaring out the tunes, to the seemingly never-ending parade of bearded young fellas entering, doing that high-five-handshake-chest-bump-dude-hug hybrid with one of their own before leaving again, to the fact that we’re sitting in a couple of refurbished shipping containers, suggests real crockery may be asking too much.
Surely somewhere as apparently self-consciously hipster as this will serve coffee in an Adidas Samba, toast on a dustbin lid and eggs on a VHS copy of The Bodyguard (this really happened somewhere – Google it).
Well, serve this bearded, grumpy old fella right for making assumptions. Never judge a restaurant made of out shipping containers by its shipping containers.
Brothers Gerard and Christy McQuillan opened Freight in CS Lewis Square in east Belfast as Pot Kettle Black, but a rebranding has it leaning fully into its unique selling point.
Yawning widows let the light flood in from the square outside, while inside splashes of greenery and industrial design bits and pieces make for a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere, though if you end up sitting right beside the kitchen you may need the music turned down just a smidge.
There are a few tables in for a brunch so late the next meal is dinner. The menu reflects this and manages to meet, defy and exceed any expectations you might have of the place.
Meeting them is smashed avocado on toast, and the fact they call poached eggs ‘poachers’. Defying them is the Korean fried chicken benedict and roast hake with spring onion croquette. Exceeding them is what arrives on the honest to God plates in front of you.
Asparagus, soft egg yolk and hollandaise will be a winner every time, especially as well executed as here with just the hint of curry running through everything and some lightly pickled cucumber toning down the richness.
The hazelnuts listed on the menu would have provided more welcome crunch to go with the breadcrumbs around the egg, but the substitute golden sultanas work a treat, especially with the curry, transporting you to a chip shop that really knows what it’s doing when it comes to what it pours over its chips.
The Korean fried chicken benedict you’ve been waiting three overlong paragraphs to hear about is £11 worth of spicy salve for the soul.
The boneless bird is beautifully moist and resolutely chickeny, the coating shatters then melts, with a suggestion of five spice. A kimchi-esque slaw provides more crunch and sourness, with sweet caramelised onions, more of that hollandaise, this time laced with sriracha and a poached egg they can call whatever they want when they do this with it.
Halfway through, it’s been demolished so greedily that it looks like a dustbin lid may have made more sense that a plate. It’s worth the visit alone.
On the side, the patatas bravas are crisp chunks of potato lightly spun in a garlicy, smoky, warmingly spiced sauce that are sent up a notch with the addition of flakes of crisped kale.
Desserts, like everything else, combined the familiar carried off perfectly with enough of a flourish to remind you of the skill you’re dealing with.
A lovely, warm chocolate cake and a equally good sticky toffee pudding came with honeycomb and pistachio dust respectively, and both with good ice cream.
The server’s devastation in reporting that the pudding wouldn’t come with the banana puree he promised was only matched by my own.
By this stage, beards, blaring music, shipping containers and all, you were safe to expect it would have come on a real life plate. And you just knew it would have been very good.
Asparagus, crispy egg, hollandaise, curry £8.50
Korean fried chicken benedict £11
Patatas bravas £3.50
Sourdough toast £2
Chocolate cake £6
Sticky toffee pudding £6