As a young 20 something you might be surprised to find me dining in a hotel restaurant, not least one that would be the province of the aged and the affluent; but hey, variety is the spice of life, right? You expect the quality but, you’ll be amazed at the exceptional value that you can find at the Great Room at the Merchant hotel… easy when you know how.

It pains me to see beautiful establishments unfilled because they aren’t appealing to the vast market. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I read the more attractive menu range. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love getting dressed up and heading somewhere as beautiful and ornate as the Merchant? Right in the City Centre, adjacent to the Cathedral Quarter, you really couldn’t ask for a better location.

Rather than sticking with the classic Pre -Theatre Menu, they have extended the ‘Set Dinner Menu’ to 9.45pm Monday-Thursday and 10pm on Friday and have seriously upped their game with a more varied options and combinations that made me purse my lips in anticipation whilst scanning through the menu. At £23.50 for two courses and £28.00 for three, I knew I was onto a winner!

Now to the food! To start I opted for the Mourne lamb fillet served with a creamy, yet tangy goats’ cheese folded between delicate courgette ribbons, with a black garlic purée and sticky truffle honey drizzled on top. Waow, what can I say, it delivered on every level. Lamb perfectly pink and succulent, just enough honey to coat everything and bring each element together; with the goats’ cheese cutting through everything at the end. Simply divine.

If you’re not a red meat fan, the chicken and sweetcorn ravioli covered in a buttery smoked foam will blow your mind. A classic combo married together with the wafer-thin pasta and crisp bacon topper.

Onto the mains… Smoked duck breast served with peaches, walnuts and gingerbread, love this blend of ingredients. Seeing this made me excited to see what they had in store for me and I wasn’t disappointed, melt in the mouth stuff.

Second choice for me was the hake on a green pea risotto. Beautiful crisp skin with the fish flaking apart amidst the creamy and comforting risotto with the sweet garden peas banishing any heaviness from the dish. With both mains I would say they all had it going on, no sides necessary, (although I am a stickler for the cauliflower cheese if you are tempted).

I have to say after sampling the savoury side, I barely had room for dessert and it’s nice to see they haven’t abandoned all of their original menu all together, the profiterole swans still gliding on the surface of a warm chocolate sauce… what’s not to love?

What a meal, what a setting. Ideal for a special occasion or if you just feel (like me) that from time to time you deserve a little treat then it has to be The Great Room!

 

Belfast Food Girl,

Katie Clarke

 

For more from @BelfastFoodGirl, follow her here:

 

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