Eating In: Cyprus Avenue pizza van, you're the man
228-230 Upper Newtownards Road,
028 90656 755
I’VE always considered the entire concept of being able to get your dinner delivered to your door to be one of the little miracles of modern living.
Of course – as people write when they want you to know something they do already, even if they looked it up on the internet 10 seconds previously – it’s not modern at all.
At the end of the 18th century in Korea you could get cold noodles brought to your door, and not long after that you – well, not you, unless you’re member of the Korean ruling class – could also have a steaming bowl of haejang-guk, literally “soup to chase a hangover” (of course), delivered after a hard night on the rice wine.
Now you can look vaguely near your phone and have some haejang-guk – or just about anything you want – arrive at your nowhere-near-Korea front door, and the past year has turned food delivery into a truly essential service.
Groceries have been delivered to those isolating, or anyone who would rather not brave the shops, while restaurants and other businesses have been able to stay afloat and provide livelihoods.
Chef-owner Richard McCracken has combined the two at Cyprus Avenue, and through the past year of lockdowns the east Belfast restaurant has provided a shop, a deli, a takeaway and now a pizza van.
The produce, for sale in the ‘corner shop’, used in the takeaway meals – both from the restaurant menu and the heat at home ready variety – and the pizzas, comes almost entirely from small, local producers, which helps keep afloat another part of an industry fighting to survive.
The pizza van itself doesn’t actually go anywhere but the weekend delivery service based from it offers not just superb, blistered, chewy sourdough pies with those toppings of impeccable provenance, but ready meals, milk, eggs, bread and desserts.
And a tomahawk steak the size of a tennis racket.
The piece of meat is to blame for there being knocks on my door two weekends in a row.
What started out as the intention of reviewing the pizza – it is a pizza van – and a couple of the ready meal options, quickly disappeared with the sight of that steak.
As a result, the bill at the bottom of the page is a snapshot, arrived at by working out what a normal person might order for their dinner. Might.
Both steak night and pizza night easily spilled over into steak and pizza afternoons, and that’s without considering the ready meals. Quality and generosity have been the common denominator of the best takeaway and delivery options over the past year and Cyprus Avenue is no different.
The pizzas themselves don’t disappoint. There’s not as much kick in the jerk chicken as you might expect but in truth the chicken could have been absent and it wouldn’t have been missed. The smoked tomato and tamarind are doing the heavy lifting here, a deeply flavoured balance of sweet and sour.
Another is all about the cheese, and the name dropping, with Young Buck, Toonsbridge Mozzarella and St Tola Goats’ cheese sitting with Burren Balsamics onion jam.
When you’re declaring the ingredients are this good you’re leaving yourself nowhere to hide, and there’s no need. There’s chew, crack, everything you want.
The steak – £50 for a huge dinner for two, or £60 if you want to add prawns in Cafe de Paris butter and pitch black squid garlic bread – takes the little miracle of food delivery to another level entirely.
If you’re going anywhere they ask you to pay for your steak by weight, then the tomahawk is a gimmick that leaves you forking out for a photo opportunity. It’s a bone-in ribeye with the inedible bit given a prominence it doesn’t deserve unless Instagramming your dinner makes you really happy.
But cut through the nonsense and you’re left with a huge, superbly cooked, clearly exceptionally produced piece of meat. It comes with the steak dinner accompaniments hall of fame – crispy spuds, mushrooms, roast tomatoes – and spectacular pickled onion rings.
Those ready meals are the best you’re likely to taste too, a fragrant lamb and apricot curry and a superb smoked haddock chowder.
Dessert sums up what Cyprus Avenue is doing – the restaurant’s own signature sticky toffee madeleines with a tub of Moon Gelato, who are making ice cream in Moria they’d kill for in Milan. And maybe a couple of extra tubs for the freezer, in case of emergency? Of course.
Plenty o’ cheese please pizza £11
Jerk baby jerk pizza £12
Sticky toffee madeleines £5
Moon Gelato x2 £6
Lamb and apricot curry £6
Delivery fee £3