Made in Belfast City Hall is one of those wee places you might not find if you didn't know where to look, or one of those little gems that you stumble into. It all depends if you're having a goal orientated day or waiting to see where your feet will take you.
The interior is very 'urban cafe' with mismatched furniture, random tiles, posters and graffiti, and exposed brick and pipe. It all looks very cool and I find is a great place to impress when you're out with a few friends.
But lets talk about the food, that's the important part when reviewing a restaurant after all.
The food is awesome.
Myself, I'm fond of the flat iron steak (served medium rare) with beef shortrib, buttermilk onion rings, and beef fat fries... today as any other day it came out to perfection.
Their burgers are a nice big handmade affair, and of course there are baskets of chicken wings, cups of soup with tasty big lumps of foccacia bread, big pots of mussels... oh I could go on and on.
They make a big thing about having sustainably sourced and ethical foods, which I'll admit I always think is a gimmick when I see that in any restaurant, but I do get the feeling that MiB is actually trying.
The menu caters well for vegetarians and vegans, but to be honest given that I've waxed-lyrical about the flat iron steak I'm probably not the man to talk to about that.
Cocktails is something that Made in Belfast has a good reputation for, although since I'm normally driving I can't say I've sampled anything, and the last date I took there considered gin and tonic to be the only cocktail that she needed. Fortunately the gin selection is fantastic, so there's a reason for you to go and check it out.
The beer selection is pretty decent, although craft beer is exclusively Whitewater Brewery. If you've been following my reviews you'll know that I think this is no bad thing, but it is an area I think Made in Belfast have room to broaden their horizons given the sheer spectrum of local craft currently on the market, perhaps as beer specials or a beer of the week.
Last to mention about Made in Belfast City Hall is the service: I can't speak highly enough about the team. They're friendly, on the ball, and (for example) when you land in on a rainy day with a party of six and no booking they'll do their best to squeeze you in (I promise I won't make a habit of that).
Units 1 & 2 Wellington Building, Wellington Street, Belfast
7 days a week
On street and nearby multistorey
This review applies only to Made in Belfast City Hall. I haven't eaten in The Grill restaurant mentioned on the website, I'll do a separate review whenever I have. It also does not apply to the Cathedral Quarter restaurant.
The Perch Rooftop Bar is one of those places in Belfast that I was always hearing about but had never actually been to, mostly because if I had been enjoying a drink in sister bar Sweet Afton I would later turn toward the city centre rather than look around the corner of the building to head upstairs.
I finally managed to correct this deficiency in my knowledge and I found The Perch to be something of a kitsch gem. The darkened entrance tunnel is lit by fairy lights as birds twitter from speakers all around and then you travel a manned lift to to the top floor of the old converted warehouse, or you can walk five storeys if you are feeling energetic.
The bar itself sits in the centre of a bright and airy room, half of which is permanently covered and half of which has a retractable roof to make the most of those rare days of sunlight that cook us up like vampires.
The furniture is a mix of trendy conservatory and patio furniture, along with a few stools and long tables, with wooden floors on the inside and artificial grass outside. It's quirky without being annoyingly so.
Cocktails are the big selling point on the menu, but they also have a decent selection of more niche beers on tap (I won't say 'Craft' because I have a friend who would have a coronary if I called the Coor's owned Franciscan Well beers Craft), and the mandatory prosecco.
I was quite surprised to see that they also offered a decent range of pizzas and nibbles to snack on, but I know usually that if I had the option to sit and graze all day I would probably never leave, so fair play.
I had a giggle to myself when I noticed that they literally just sawed through the joices of the old Victorian warehouse to lift the roof off and make the bar, that's the ingenuity we're famed for.
And you know what, the whole thing works. There is just something cool about sitting on a patio sofa drinking a cold beer on a sunny day five storeys above the traffic.
The Gate, 42 Franklin Street, Belfast
7 days a week
On street and nearby multistorey, but don't be thick if you're driving