I recently got to try out the new menu at the Marco Pierre White restaurant in east Belfast’s Park Avenue Hotel.
The restaurant has been open for a couple of years now and I managed to wangle myself an invite to the opening at the time. Two things struck me – firstly, the food was delicious and secondly it was quite expensive with the priciest thing on the menu coming in at around £40. So this time round, have things changed?
Since then more than 50,000 diners have passed through the doors to sample locally sourced steak with perfectly matched wines.
There’s no denying that the MPW Steakhouse is a very stylish restaurant, all muted greys and hushed tones. On the night we dined we were greeted with a cocktail – negroni, porn star martini or bellini. We had our choice of the full menu so I started with the baked Camembert – quite possibly the prettiest starter I have ever seen as it was served on a board with sourdough toast and vine tomatoes. It was lovely and the perfect size – not too big for a starter at all.
I will say this, mine might have been the prettiest starter but the out-and-out winner of the day was the scallop and black pudding dish that was served with pancetta and cauliflower puree. Those that had it raved about it – particularly as the black pudding is locally sourced so you won’t find the same ingredients for that in other branches. And when I say raved, I mean RAVED about it. Other starter options included a selection of salads, calamari, baby back ribs and a really nice 1970s prawn cocktail.
Just about everyone at our table ordered steak – why would you not at a steakhouse? I opted for the centre cut fillet cooked rare and got exactly that. All steaks come with a choice of triple cooked chips, pommes frites or green salad. Of course there are other things on the menu – burgers, fish and chips and even macaroni cheese. In case you’re worried about vegetarian options our sober, vegan friend was very well catered for on the night and said he would happily return.
I’m actually groaning thinking about the dessert – I opted for sticky toffee pudding which is always a hit. We mostly drank red wine to go with our steak but there’s a really nice cocktail menu if that’s not your preferred celfasthoice.
So how does it stack up with my last visit? The food hasn’t changed – it’s still excellent. Very nice produced cooked really well and a little something for everyone. As for the prices? I’ll pay particular attention the last time I was there, but I swear they’ve come down. The most expensive thing on the menu is the Chateaubriand at £59 – but that serves two. You won’t pay more than £30 for a steak here AND the sides are included in the price. I compared with a favourite steak restaurant in Belfast city centre and not only are the prices there more expensive but sides cost extra. I also happen to think there’s less selection on the menu. MPW is really good value for money.
Negatives? Not many. It’s in the heart of east Belfast which works very well for me as it’s withing minutes walking distance of my front door but for others it might be a trek.
Positives – The steak house may be a chain but I like that it’s based in an independent, family owned hotel. There’s plenty of carparking if you decide to drive and the Strand Cinema is next door if you fancy dinner and a movie. Staff are lovely and the hotel is looking better than I’ve ever seen it.
You can find out more about the new menu and book online at www.parkavenuehotel.co.uk