Knife and Fork, Malone Lodge Hotel – Belfast Restaurant Week

Yesterday’s Taste and Dine event outside City Hall kicked off my Belfast Restaurant Week. It was great getting to try Ten Square Hotel’s Restaurant Week menu for a fraction of the price if I’d dined in (£4 for a beef slider, steak skewer and bang bang chicken), and Mourne Seafood’s salt and chilli squid with chips and salad was a bargain at just £5.

Hence, it was with some excitement that we headed to Knife and Fork Grill and Deli for dinner this evening. I’ve heard good things about the food and have had it on my “to-visit” list for quite a while, and this was the perfect opportunity to check it out for myself.

The restaurant was fairly busy when we entered, with a few large groups of diners. We were greeted by about three staff before we were seated – everyone seemed in the midst of attending to another diner or serving food.

The menu was largely similar to what I’d seen online, which meant that we didn’t take long to order. While the crowd of diners resulted in our starters taking some time to arrive, we were pleasantly surprised by the portions that appeared.

E’s handmade bread shots with sundried tomato olive oil and dukkah were deliciously warm and soft. The dukkah was aromatic and perhaps overpowered the more subtle fragrance of the breads – but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless. My goat’s cheese fritter with ballymaloe relish and salad looked more like a large croquette, which meant that it cooled more quickly than if it were served as goujon-like strips (as its name suggested). The cheese was just the way I like it – pungent and bold – but might be too much after a while for those who like their cheese more mild.

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The lamb rump with roasted aubergine, Moroccan cous cous and mint yoghurt was the menu item that sealed my decision to visit Knife and Fork, as I absolutely love lamb. At first glance, I was slightly concerned by the lack of sauce on the plate, but this turned out to be unnecessary as the lamb was moist and tender. The cous cous had a good flavour and went well with the lamb, although the same can’t be said of the roast aubergine, as its texture just didn’t go with anything on the plate. The bit of lamb crackling was unexpected and the icing on the cake – I’d saved the best for last, and it was crunchy and delicious still.

E’s ribeye with caramelised onion mash and spiced confit carrots looked delectable – unfortunately I was too busy with my own dish to try more than a tiny bit of mash (no trace of onion detected) and steak (juicy and delicious). It’s not the first time I’ve failed to sample his food properly due to preoccupation with my own – definitely which needs to be addressed soon!

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We were full by the end of our main courses, but greed got the better of us and we decided to go for dessert as well. The “tower of profiteroles with chocolate sauce“, was, disappointingly, more like a small mound. However, my main beef wasn’t with the inaccuracy in the description but with an omission – the failure to mention the presence of popping candy in the chocolate and raspberry sauce. I did not like the sensation of the popping candy in my mouth, and would probably not have ordered this dish if it were mentioned. Thankfully, the apple bakewell tart with vanilla bean ice cream was more enjoyable, with no surprises and everything you’d expect of an apple tart.

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All in all, Knife and Fork is worth a try. The food is decent, and, while there’s nothing to rave about this meal, there was nothing really to complain about either, as my minor quibbles were down more to personal taste than quality. At £17.95 for 3 courses on the Restaurant Week menu and £17 for 3 courses on their regular set menu, my suggestion would be to check it out and decide for yourself!

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