It’s fantastic news for Belfast that Jean-Christophe will be opening his new 104 seat restaurant in the forthcoming four star AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast. This will be the only restaurant that the multi- Michelin starred and 5 out of 5 AA Rosette award-winning chef will open in Ireland and I for one can’t wait!
I made sure to skip breakfast to fully prepare for this experience, which took place in the opulent Belfast Harbour Commissioner’s Office. I skipped along in anticipation of a foodie treat and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! The occasion got off to an excellent start with a champagne reception. Perfect for a spot of mingling while admiring the interior of the venue, one of my favourite buildings.
Mingling done, we were shown to the room which looked and smelled wonderful with stunning eucalyptus arrangements on each table. A gift of Jean-Cristophe’s recipe book, an apron and a branded wooden spoon lay at each place! I found myself ridiculously pleased with my new wooden spoon as I had only just noticed that my own were looking extremely shabby (simple pleasures and all that)!
I eventually stopped admiring my new spoon and shifted my attention to the menu. What a treat! Niall McKenna and his team from James Street South were on hand to support Jean-Christophe prepare his dishes so we knew he was in safe hands. The man himself addressed the room and then we settled back to enjoy lunch!
The starter was seared scallops with sweet potato mash and an orange & vanilla reduction. This was served with a glass of Vins Auvigue Saint Veran. I will admit to not being a fan of scallops but you really can’t profess to be a food blogger unless you try everything. I’m glad I did as this was a delicious combination of tastes and textures. My dislike of scallops may well be cured!
This was followed by a main course of Barolo & liquorice braised lamb shank with celeriac puree. The wine partnered with this was Cabutto Tenuta La Volta Barolo. If I was in a restaurant, the liquorice in this may have caused me to avoid this dish as it is one of my least favourite ingredients but it worked beautifully with the tender melt in the mouth lamb. It was a hint of the flavour rather than a full on assault and I loved it. Like the starter, it was exquisitely presented (sadly my photography skills don’t do the food justice).
Our dessert was the Novelli Apple Tarte Tatin with Calvados & bourbon vanilla ice-cream, served with the dessert wine, Chateau Filhot. What a delight. I don’t even have a sweet tooth but I devoured every mouthful!
After the meal, I was introduced to Jean-Christophe who was charm personified. He was keen to know if I had enjoyed his dishes- me? a humble food blogger? I could barely stutter how much I enjoyed his food! Mind you, I recovered enough to get my photo taken with him and to get his book signed for one lucky reader to win! (details of how to win coming soon)
I can honestly say, if this was the trailer for the forthcoming restaurant, I can’t wait for the main attraction!
Eating Ideas Rating: 5 stars