Pop Up Belfast

for those who havent been swept up in the twitter whirlwind around pop up belfast – it was a dining experience, at a secret location for only 3 nights – bookings came in thick and fast for this brain child of the team behind the merchant hotel – a hot ticket for something a bit special

the first people to find out the secret location – where booked into the thursday night – the 22nd of september

and imagine my – and i imagine many peoples surprise, when there where no outbursts of excitement on twitter – not a peep – thats right, it was kept a secret! somehow, the wonderful people behind pop up belfast, where able to keep usual twitter madness under control & preserve the anticipation for the following two nights diners!

despite having a friend over from Spain, and a fun filled day at Murlough – i couldnt help but remain a little on edge – not being able to organise my lift home does that to me lol that coupled with our visitor failing to understand the concept without thinking we where crazy ( what?!? you’ve paid for dinner?!? and dont even know where it is?!?!? ) made for a strange mix of apprehension &  excitement! and at 6pm – when i still didnt know where I was heading too – I had to ask a willing friend if he would mind taking us up to the mysterious venue to put my mind at ease! It would of been such a lovely touch if you could of booked your taxi, via the event, so you didnt need to worry! ( ok so i worry to much ) And it would of saved the surprise to the very last minute!

once our email had arrived – we jumped into the car – and where ferried off to our fabulous dining location!


i can not think of a more symbolic location within Belfast, perhaps Northern Ireland – the home in which the ill fated ship was first brought to fruition. The beautiful old room, and in fact entire old building is currently in a bit of a state of disrepair. But the pop up belfast team did the building justice by lighting her delicately by candle light. Allowing us all to be taken back with her to better days. Hopefully one day she will be restored – the architecture is stunning, the old stair case swept me away.

On arrival we where greeted with a warm welcome, a glass of sparkling wine & a table plan. A little like a wedding – but i cant think of a better way or organising all those people onto tables of 8! We where then able to say hi to a few familiar faces and locate our dining partners – in this case the lovely Belfast Bites & Heavenly Bites – one of the best things about twitter & my blog has been making these friends –  and a few new friends where made at the table too!

The tables where stunning – with beautiful candles in the centre – and pretty pink salt at each setting – this shouldnt be eaten by the way….. its tastes of salt….. strong salt…. just saying!!!

Once seated it wasnt long until mood setting music began & the theatricals commenced

seared scallops with almonds, aubergine & saffron smoked air ( la grille chenin blanc 2010, loire )

a beautifully delivered dish, which set the feel for the evening – i had picked my seat well – the large tray arrived just beside me! This meant myself & the Susan sat to my right both got to play waitress and pass the scallops along of their lovely bed of seaweed. A touch of the Great British Menu!

beef carpaccio, herring roe & quail egg with parmesan( mandriolo 2009, igt maremma, morisfarms )

another dish arriving in style – i met a quail earlier that day in newcastle – after eating these eggs, little miss quail may well be quail napped….. the parmesan crisps where much admired – an evening of eating nothing else, but many of these little gems may of been mentioned….

assiette of salmon – ballotine, tartar, salmon caviar, tea smoked ( pinto d’alsace mettis 2006, domaine bott geyl )

 a plate, just set down in front of me? surely not? ah no, of course not – an old wine crate arrived, and with a flourish the lid was whipped away, and a lovely smelling poof of tea smokiness floated out. The tea smoked salmon had a lovely flavour, though the tartar was my favourite part of this dish

spiced pea soup, black figs, iberico ham & goat’s cheese 

this time the work was all done for us, with Tony, the merchants charming executive chef – coming around to supply us with this lovely rich pea soup

mystery main course

after attending a fabulous blind folded dinner at the merchant hotel not so long ago – this wasnt just as scary for me as my dinning companions – but i think i managed to persaude them all that fingers where the way forward

venison, yellow beetroot, potato croquettes, artichoke puree & beetroot puree ( massaya classic red 2008, lebanon )

too wrapped up in the moment to take any pics Im afraid – Ill direct you elsewhere later on lol

lemon mouse pre dessert

local berries, creme chantilly & lemon emulsion, pistachio ( finca antigua moscatel 2009 )

when all the fun & games came to an end we ventured out into the cold to wait for our taxi – & to enjoy another of Belfasts greats – maybe the next pop up could be up there 😉

check out some other takes on pop up

belfast bites – well done fillet – food belfast