I’ve been looking forward to visiting Hadskis for a long time, and E’s birthday finally gave us the excuse to pop in and experience what many have been raving about.
The restaurant itself is a long rectangle, with the entrance and till in the middle and tables to either side. While we were the only patrons at the start of our evening, it never felt awkward as the staff tended to stay near the entrance and gave us plenty of time to peruse the menu.
Hadskis seems to have expanded its menu from when it first started out, leaving us spoilt for choice. We finally decided on steak as the main course – having been thoroughly impressed by the ribeye at Hadski’s sister restaurant James Street South Bar + Grill, I was keen to see how Hadskis fared with this dish.
For starters, we settled on some perennial favourites – I can’t resist crab on a menu, and the curried crab croquettes that appeared were adorable and perfectly round.
The crust had a satisfying crunch, but the lightly spiced crab filling seemed just a bit chewy and dry. The saffron cream sauce that accompanied the croquettes was subtle and added little to the dish, and I wonder if the croquettes would have benefited from having the sauce on the inside instead, ala Japanese izakaya crab cream croquette style.
I was sceptical of our second starter at first – I mean, duck confit with spiced plum and cucumber? It sounded like a strange combination, but I rarely say no to duck confit so we took the plunge and ordered it. Being adventurous paid off – just look at this beauty. Despite being in a slightly sweet, spiced sauce, the duck skin was still crisp in some areas, and the cool cucumber provided balance to the plum and duck flavours.
Buoyed by the starters, sat expectant for the mains. My ribeye with bearnaise sauce (£21) was as it should – medium rare; pink and juicy on the inside. The skinny skin-on chips were addictive too, and probably twice-cooked in duck fat or beef dripping.
In fact, I was rather happy with my steak until I tried some of E’s fillet steak with pepper cream sauce (£23) – oh my word. The smoky aroma from the grill that transformed into a rich, distinctive flavour in the mouth, and the thick, succulent steak seared on the outside but oh so tender on the inside – it was pure heaven on a plate. The pepper cream sauce held its own against the sublime steak too, to the extent that I ditched my bearnaise sauce – it became very bland after my bite of fillet – and went for the pepper cream sauce instead.
I definitely think that Hadski’s fillet steak with pepper cream sauce has dethroned James Street South Bar + Grill to claim the crown of ‘Best Steak in Belfast’. It’s a pity then that on the latest menu, the fillet steak is now paired with bearnaise instead of pepper cream, and that the duck confit (and croquettes) have been replaced by a new range of starters.
However, seeing as Hadskis seems to have delicious – if somewhat uncommon – pairing of flavours, it will be interesting to try out some of the new dishes, such as the Trofie Pasta, Pear, Spinach & Pecorino. I am also excited to see osso bucco on the menu – Singaporean friends living in Milan treated me to this mouth-watering dish when I visited them last year, and it would be an experience to taste a professionally made version!
With Valentines’ Day around the corner, where should we dine next? Back to Hadskis, or somewhere else (OX, James Street South and Havanna Bank Square are among the contenders). What was your experience of Hadskis? Share them with me in the comments below!