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A HALLOWEEN birthday has certain advantages. Firstly, there are decorations, parties and fireworks already on tap. Secondly, one's witchy - or should I say bewitching - personality is overlooked as a matter of seasonal eccentricity.

And thirdly, well thirdly there is cake - although I hear that probably applies to most birthdays.

No one batted an eyelid as I trotted through Bangor in my pointy hat last weekend and Beloved only looked vaguely embarrassed when he couldn't find reverse on my broomstick.

We were on our way to Back Street Bistro which has reopened after three years, complete with owner/chef Davey Moore, who with 23 years under his belt following training at London's The Ivy, knows what he's at.

This has been a favourite Co Down haunt of ours since it opened a few years ago and we were gutted the doors closed and Davey moved on.

I missed the warm atmosphere and beautiful surroundings where lovely driftwood-framed mirrors hang on natural stone walls.

I missed the slightly crackers staff who really make an evening good fun.

And I missed the informality that's coupled with a pleasant familiarity which makes each visit feel so good.

Beloved - a man of few words - missed the slow roast pork belly.

So we were back in Back, and this time we took our own booze. For in a nod to the credit crunch and a move intended to get bums on seats, Davey has swapped his drinks licence for a more casual BYO approach.

And although it could not have been the only reason for the restaurant's popularity, every table was booked, every seat taken and everybody appeared to be having a good time.

We were treated to home-baked breads and oils, one spiked with Indian spices, the other with chili, as we had our bottles whisked off to be slipped into a cooler. I started with Morrocan spiced pumpkin soup and Beloved had Bang Bang chicken salad.

The soup arrived in a little terrine, piping hot with the agreeable aroma of spices turning heads as it wafted its way through the dining room to our table.

Soup is a simple offering but done well, it can be a minor masterpiece. This little pumpkin number was great. Deep flavours, a beautiful soft orange colour and a silky consistency that ensured it was light enough for a starter.

Of course Beloved wasn't getting away with his Bang Bang chicken without sharing a nibble with the little wife. It was tender, slightly spicy with a nutty under-flavour which matched beautifully with the modest salad it was served with.

For our main course Beloved went for his favourite, the slow roasted pork belly, this time with an Asian twist and served with crisp Asian greens. And so I had my favourite too, fillet steak which was provided by Primacy Meats in Bangor which ensured top quality.

I can state without fear of contradiction that Davey Moore's pork belly is the best in Ireland. That's it. It's just that good. Sweet, sublimely tender, full of flavour and marvellously moreish. And at less than pounds 14, this dish is a must.

After I finished stealing Beloved's pork, we checked out my steak and it was excellent. I had it cooked medium well and it boasted a little tinge of pink which was just right for my taste. Added to this we had fries and a selection of green vegetables which were flavourful and served perfectly al dente.

And despite the fact we were fit to be rolled home, we decided on pudding and opted for pavlova with strawberries and fresh coulis.

This was a return visit for us to Back Street Bistro - one of many to come no doubt. Check it out. And order the pork belly. You'll be glad you did.

Back Street Bistro, 7 Holborn Avenue


Morrocan spiced pumpkin soup: pounds 4.50

Bang Bang Chicken Salad: pounds 5.95

Slow Roasted Pork Belly: pounds 13.95

Fillet steak: pounds 22.95 Fries pounds 2.50

Selection of veg: pounds 2.50

2 Pavlova and Strawberries:

pounds 4

2 Coke: pounds 1.70

Corkage: pounds 4

Total: pounds 67.75


The return of an old favourite has 'witchy' Jilly Beattie cackling with approval as she enjoys a Halloween birthday treat with her Beloved at a BYO bistro in Bangor


CLEVER ROUGE Back Street's food is top notch but still well priced
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 6, 2010
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