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Eating Out in Belfast #1

I come from a family were we love to eat out. We're more likely to go out for Sunday dinner than cook one ourselves! I have a life long obsession with food and as I get older, I definitely have become more adventurous. This week I ate out in two fabulous places in Belfast and I thought I would share them with you.
 
Avoca Belfast
Last Sunday my friends Emma, Claire and I decided to go for a spot of lunch (after running frantically around the shops looking for Mother's Day presents). We ended up in one of Belfast's cutest shops, Avoca, which is based on what now is one of the most trendy spots in Belfast. With Paperchase, Cath Kidston and Jack Wills all facing Avoca on Arthur Street, it is reminiscent of lots of my favourite places in London. Avoca is a great place to visit for lots of beautiful Irish homeware as well as clothing, newly released Butter London polishes and a huge amount of sweet treats (such as Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Brownies) which are all available to take away. Buried upstairs are two eateries- one less formal one for a coffee and a fabulous salad bar and one which is a bit more formal but with a great kitsch feel. We opted for the more formal restaurant as we fancied something a bit heartier than a salad or sandwich. My friend Claire had an amazing meal of calamari. I'm a recent calamari convert and usually any where I go, it usually involves a few bits shoved in the middle of a plate but not at Avoca! Claire's meal came with a huge bowl of calamari which had been coated in breadcrumbs and fried with spring onion and chili. This was also served with a side salad and two dips on a giant cheeseboard. Needless to say, I wish I would have ordered this! I however opted for the pasta of the day. This was spinach and ricotta tortellini with a cream and walnut sauce served with shaved Parmesan. It was absolutely gorgeous and very filling. Emma had already had her family lunch before we went shopping so she opted for a smoothie of pineapple, coconut and mango and a lovely blueberry scone which came with jam, cream and butter. We also had some chips to share which are cooked in duck fat and were incredible! Overall, it was an absolutely amazing meal. The service was brilliant and the meal was very well priced. Avoca Cafe would be a great place for a family lunch or for a date- it's cute and the food is fab. I think I'll be returning very soon!

My gorgeous pasta

Yummy smoothie packed with fresh fruit!
 
 
House of Zen St. Anne's Square
Last night, we booked to go to House of Zen in St. Anne's Square (which is a beautiful area with the MAC and lots of yummy eateries) for my friend's 21st birthday. So us five girls ran (in the rain) to get inside to be met by an amazing interior. Very authentically Chinese but still very  modern.  We were seated at a booth which we really loved- there is nothing worse than a long table and feeling like you can't have a proper conversation! None of us had ever been to House of Zen before so we were excited to try it. We opted to share a bottle of wine before dinner and ordered some chicken satay, spring rolls and ribs to share for a starter. The chicken satay was particularly tasty. For my main meal I ordered rib eye steak rolls which were stuffed with asparagus (my favourite vegetable!) covered in a sizzling peppercorn sauce. I also ordered some salsa potatoes (which were more like potatoes in Peking sauce!) as a side. My main meal was so tasty and a very generous portion. All the other girls enjoyed their meals too. One of the girls ordered pork belly and it looked absolutely amazing! The service at Zen was great- someone laid napkins on our knees prior to the meal and we were given hot cloths to clean our fingers after our starters. Little touches like this really make such a difference when dining out. Our bill came in at just over £100 which for 5 people, a bottle of wine and some starters was pretty fabulous! If you love Chinese food, I urge you to try House of Zen. Their food is not atypical Chinese but it definitely delights the taste buds. The food was so good (and it also was a Friday night and I was starving) that I forgot to take pictures!

Also a special mention goes to the Northern Whig were we hit up last night after Zen for some cocktails... they are £4 all day on a Friday!
 
Any good recommendations of where I should try in Belfast soon?
 
G x