Dirtiest eateries in Belfast…

FOOD hygiene in Belfast’s eateries is now ranked online. The BBC notes a few surprises, with Deane’s and Paul Rankin’s Roscoff not doing particularly well. The worst are listed below the fold.The Belfast premises listed by the city council in the no stars category are:

Lee Foods Wholesale S’markets, 34-38 Charlotte Street

Global House, Cregagh Road

The Emerald, 55 Dublin Road

The Abacus, 115 Eglantine Avenue

Il Bambino, 107 Falls Road

King Kebab, 195 Falls Road

Curry House, 75 Glen Road

Katie’s Kakes, 301 Glen Road

Pizzeria Italia, Lepper Street

Esperanto, 158 Lisburn Road

Mandarin, 565 Lisburn Road

Rajput, 459-461 Lisburn Road

Sonali, 703 Lisburn Road

Tipaza Grocery, 143a Lisburn Road

Steak Burger Grill, May Street

Pizza Supreme, 71 Mountview Street

Katy Daly’s, 17 Ormeau Avenue

Tudor Café, 186 Shankill Road

Heaven Bridge, 102 Stranmillis Road

Remember Taste, 203 Upper Newtownards Road

Belfast Kebabish, 21 York Road

  • Cormac

    Pizzeria Italia, Lepper Street

    …ya couldn’t make it up!

  • Bemused

    No surprises here – Deane’s and Roscoff are over-priced mediocre tack-fests. The only places now worth eating in in Belfast are (in my view) as follows:-

    Ginger – honest, modest, relaxed yet extremely consistent food.

    Nick’s Warehouse – ditto.

    The Mourne Seafood Bar – ditto (but could do with (a) a bit of a clean-up and (b) executing the verminous scum who populate it’s immediate hinterland i.e. the perma-pissed ‘characters’ who doss around Castle St, Church Lane etc.

    The Merchant – reasonably pleasant surroundings (by Belfast standards) and steadily improving food (first chef was a shocker – left after a few months).

    Macau – superb when on form.

    Printers – cheap and cheerful and generally consistent.

    Other then that – where the hell is there to eat in the city? Any thoughts folks?

  • Bemused

    ‘…other then that…’ oops ‘other than that’ of course.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Ah, I thought you were a Bengorr toff there, phew.

  • snakebrain

    Gourmet Burger Bar on Newtonards Rd is just about ok, am:pm on Botanic not bad at all, though always busy, Smyth and Gibson in the city not bad for light lunch, but really, it’s not easy to pick.

    Roscoff is inconsistent, and outrageously priced for such an ordinary restaurant. I asked for plain dark chocolate after dinner once and was told they did have some, but I couldn’t have any, as they might need it for tomorrow’s desserts. I was delighted to see their two stars. I wonder how people will feel on paying £150 for dinner for 2 in 2 star hygiene premises.

    Deane’s is also rubbish. I arrived at 10 o’clock on the dot a few weeks ago, having booked for 9.45, and hoping to just scrape last orders. The manager hid behind a partition peeking out occasionally to see if I’d got tired waiting rather than having the guts to say no in person. It was hilarious though..

    Those are supposed to be two of Belfast’s better restaurants though. God help us in the rest.

  • forlorn fairy

    Glad Milanos is gone, it was really over priced. And the food was bland.

  • Valenciano

    “Pizzeria Italia, Lepper Street

    …ya couldn’t make it up!”

    Why? There was a pizza place at the top of the New Lodge road at the end of the 80s.

    You really weren’t around for the pre-Ramsdens bad old days of the Kel Star were you?

  • dreamer

    Bring back victors that used to be in castle street, with its greasy floor and tables your food could slide off. Yellow snow (snow thats been pissed on) in winter outside the door and smelly cooks with fegs hanging out of the side of their mouths. Hairs in the burgers and winos with nits in the booths.

    Ahhh the good ole days.

  • Cormac

    “Pizzeria Italia, Lepper Street

    …ya couldn’t make it up!”

    Why? There was a pizza place at the top of the New Lodge road at the end of the 80s.

    You really weren’t around for the pre-Ramsdens bad old days of the Kel Star were you?
    Posted by Valenciano on Jun 06, 2007 @ 09:19 PM

    I was referring to the street name – mmmm I bet their flyers really made the tummy rumble!

    Actually, I am kinda hungry just now…

  • jone

    The James St South set lunch is the best value food in the city.

    Cayenne is better than Roscoff – the food is less prententious and better executed.

    Sakura, the newish sushi place on Botanic, was also pretty good the couple of times I’ve been there.

    Gaze on the Ormeau Road is quite good too – excellent chicken dumplings.

    Indie Spice in Stranmillis is about as good as it gets in what’s a pretty poor city for curries.

    I was disappointed to see The Abacus get zero hygiene stars as their Singapore noodles are excellent. Even a Singaporean friend of very high standards loves them.

  • jone

    Wait a minute, it’s the Abacus in Stranmillis I can recommend. Never been to the Eglantine Av version which is the one which gets zero stars.

  • big kebab (with house sauce)

    Jeesus, slugger’s going down hill

    No stars, just a load of pretentious pr…..

  • snakebrain

    sorry but i have to disagree with you there. james st south is another nearly-ran good restaurant, despite its desperation for the michelin star it will never get. niall mckenna’s a jerk too.

  • The Third Policeman

    Oh Jesus as a student in Belfast I’m noting that there’s one or two of these places I’ve been known to head to on the daily scavenge for food. For what it’s worth I suggest Maggie May’s or Common Grounds Coffee shop in the Holy Lands. Of course neither are open at 2 in the morning after a night on the lash in which case its time for a cheesy chip and gravy out of the Plaice.

  • dalek

    Most of the poncey restaurants dine out to excuse the pun on their reputations whilst being at the mercy of their head chef pisssing off at short notice and hence a good restaurant becomes a baddun overnight. Nicks Warehouse probably the best consistently over a long period of time.

    Just along the street however not too many years ago used to be one off Belfasts finest Bars..The Blackthorn in Skipper Street. Their big fry called The Blackthorn (clever name) as opposed to the Mini Blackthorn (equally clever name because it was smaller) was the finest fry in Belfast and just pushed the old Kitchen Bar fry into second place. It was a masterpiece of grease but plates were always emptied and the deep fried soda was always used to wipe the plate and good value too and the friendliest staff you could find anywhere.

    Greatly missed !!!

  • Finding somewhere good to eat out in Belfast is like finding a needle in a haystack. I hate the way the various eateries that go by the name Deanes [sic], the Rankin places, etc. are raved about by the Ulster Tatler set- I’ve been to them respectively on several occasions and certainly would not recommend people to waste their hard-earned cash propping up the egos of the owners in return for the mediocre fayre they provide in return.

    Now it’s going to be even harder to find somewhere decent to eat with this new cleanliness guide on the scene, but it’s damn good that we have it now- I had to chuckle at the overpriced ‘in’ places that languish in the lower echelons of the list.

  • Daithí

    Rankin’s is Mankin !

  • McGrath

    Is Spuds still open? (opposite Laverys)

    Im revealing my age here, we we used to roll out of the Crescent at about 1:30AM and head straight round the corner to Spuds for a Chili-Chip. I have no idea what they used to put in the stuff, but your breath could knock a vulture off a shit truck at 100 yards for a few days after.

    Fun times.

    I am lucky(?) enough in my work to eat out frequently in many locations around the world, including NI. I can say with some safety, that both my worst and some of my best eating experiences have been in Ireland. It seems more that occasionally, some staff think far to much of themselves to be working in what they view as such lowly employment. (Faulty Towers Syndrome?)

  • USA

    Well you guys are overlooking the best value in Belfast. Right across from St Annes Cathederal there is a bagel shop called Bagel-Bagel.
    Really authentic US style bagels, AWESOME. Best I have ever had while outside of the States.
    They have also just opened another location on the Dublin road near Shaftesbury square.
    The website is here. Great for lunch.
    They even deliver.

  • notmeg

    Cafe conor on stranmillis is very good, but doesnt seem to be rated for hygiene.

    Regarding abaqus, the old one on stranmillis is now called Heaven Bridge; it got a zero too. They’re both while tasty though

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Can’t agree with ‘Third Policeman’ about Maggie Mays — ate there last year and one of our party was served chicken still frozen in the middle. Don’t go there.

    For a good cheap feed it’s hard to beat the delightfully named Foo King chinese in Bradbury place — stuff till you chuck for around £6 a head.
    Also good is Cafe India on the Malone Road.

  • qubol

    Hmmm nice try USA, your bagels are nice but a bit pricey for all the size of the feckin things PLUS I tend to avoid anywhere that Brian Kennedy would call ‘Gorgeous’

    My Favourites are would be:
    The Spinx and their legendary sauce in Stranmillis.
    Rocket & Relish at St Georges Market is a gift from the gods.
    Tao Dublin Rd and the Beef Fillet & Noodles.
    Cafe Aero rocks too.

  • Bemused

    Sorry folks – forgot about James St. South – haven’t been in a while but was always pretty consistently good – camp head water Steve was utterly awesome.

    Tedfords can be pretty acceptable as well.

  • snakebrain

    yeah conor at the bottom of stranmillis road is a good tip. especially in summer when you can sit outside and inhale the mingled scents of botanic gardens and exhaust fumes.

  • Never mind the restaurants! You need bloody star ratings on the customers and not just for their personal cleanliness, but for manners and attitude to staff.

    Belfast is full of good restaurants. And it is thanks to people like Michael Deane & Paul Rankin that the quality of fare avilable has improved so much. From pubs to restaurants food in Belfast has gone through a marked improvemnet over the last 5 to 10 years. I hear this everyday of the week from foreign tourists, business travellers, people up from Dublin etc.

    My opinion is that if a premises isn’t safe to eat in then it shouldn’t be open!

    Good restaurants/bar food
    kings Head
    Deanes/Deanes Deli
    Mourne seafood
    Mollys Yard (my current favourite)
    James St South
    John Hewitt
    Merchant Hotel
    Northern Whig
    Morning Star
    Greens Pizza
    Kitchen Bar
    and so many more. I’m off to make a burger, starving now.
    Remember to tip your waiter….

  • I rang James Street South recently to check on their catering for vegetarians, as I’m looking for somewhere to take a friend from London at the weekend. I was told that they do have ‘a’ vegetarian option on their menu, no separate vegetarian menu, but they could also make me up a ‘nice risotto or pasta’ if I asked. That’s unacceptable in this day and age in an allegedly high-end restaurant – so it’s back to Cayenne as usual, they have a great vegetarian menu and the service is brilliant.

  • Ginfizz

    Esperanto? Ahh the memories of student days!

    My fav eaterie was the Skandia in Howard Street, but it went down-hill after it became Olio in Brunswick Place. Bourbon’s not bad, not to be fair is the Europa Brasserie. Deane’s is renowned for poor service. For good honest fayre, I think the King’s Head is best as well as The Point at Ballyhackamore. At the more top end of things I think Alden’s probably takes the first prize.

  • Ginfizz

    not to be fair should be nor to be fair

  • DK

    Surprised no mention of Vagos, which I’ve found very good and also that one whose name I can’t remember on dublin road that has a square theme – might be called square.

    Best Thai = Suwanna

    Mourne seafood = excellent quality and value

    Merchants = over-priced, would get better quality for less in James St South or Deanes.

    Zen is good for the maki rolls, but a bit expensive for sushi

    Special shout-out for my local chinese takeaway – Hello Kitchen – who do the best salted chilli king prawns in North Belfast.

  • Manuel-

    “And it is thanks to people like Michael Deane & Paul Rankin that the quality of fare avilable has improved so much.”


    ‘Celebrity’ owners (ha-ha), photos in the Ulster Tatler and an overpriced menu does not great food make.

    I’ll not be stopping for brunch again at Rankin’s in Fountain Street after crunching on a piece of eggshell and being served pancakes and maple syrup sans maple syrup because they’d ‘run out’ last time. Nor will I be dining in Deanes [sic] after having been served ‘dry aged Fermanagh beef’ that was as chewy as gristle, and then furnished with a ‘discretionary service charge’ afterwards.

  • Animus

    James St South is delicious, but very expensive for dinner. Maybe the rest of you are rolling in money, but eating out there has to be a special occasion.

    Ginger is fantastic, consistently good, although I preferred when it was the Ormeau Road and closer to where I live.

    Shu is also a good bet, although I haven’t been there in while. A friend of mine rates it for consistently good food more than anywhere else.

    Someone mentioned curries earlier – I think Indie Spice is pretty bland. The Bengal Brasserie and Bithika are both much better.

    So many places here cost too much for fairly pedestrian food. We went to Rain City recently (part of Rankin’s empire) and the service was abysmal, the food not cooked as requested and they just seemed pissed off to have customers. We won’t trouble them again.

  • Briso

    Posted by Ginfizz on Jun 07, 2007 @ 09:16 AM
    >not to be fair should be nor to be fair

    And ‘fayre’ should be ‘fare’, to be fair.

  • Dev

    It’s reassuring to know that my long-held suspicions about the Emerald and Esperantos (or Desperantos as it was know to me and my uni mates) have been proven correct. They are utter dives, positively heaving with un-friendly bacteria (as opposed to the friendly ones ye get in yakult et al), nevertheless, I did avail of their services at least twice a week throughout my three years in Belfast.

    I’d also recommend avoiding Maggie Mays, there fries/fry’s(?) are crap, plus they serve them on a plate that is too small. A friend of mine use to work there and apparently the manager discovered they had a rat problem in the kitchen, reported this to the owners who told her to open up anyway (she refused though).

    Conor on Stranmillis is quite nice, Molly’s Yard is good also, as is the Northern Whig.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    I think the distinction should be drawn here between this classification, which is to do purely with food hygiene, and star rating systems which are to do with food quality. Some of the best food I’ve tasted has come from places I’ve found out later scored zero or less on the hygiene rating system. I’ve lived to tell the tale.

    An example of this arises in the thread discussion:
    Wait a minute, it’s the Abacus in Stranmillis I can recommend. Never been to the Eglantine Av version which is the one which gets zero stars.

    The Abacus in Stranmillis is now called, wait for it, Heaven Bridge, and is rated zero stars on this scores on the doors system.

    I’ve been to Heaven Bridge a few times and enjoyed the food – but I’m not sure I’m going to go back now!

  • Chet Gordon Ramsay

    You get a good whopper in Burger King.

  • The Third Policeman

    can’t believe I forgot about Koo Kin Noodle bar! All you can eat for a fiver (provided of course you produce that lovely little item; the student card!)

  • moochin photoman

    Ginger without a doubt is the best value and tasting food in town. Great atmoshere, relaxed and informed staff, good service and above all freshly prepared food, which is, as noted, consistant.
    Merchant/Cloth Ear….don’t bother yer hole with, terrible service and mediocre food.
    Pothouse ditto
    Nicks well i gotta admit i had a great dinner there a couple of weeks ago, tho i did have to get an extra portion of spuds.
    Nobody has mentioned the John Hewitt which does a great lunch and at weekends a bowl of stew for the price of a pint!
    I know a couple of chefs and they don’t frequent deans or rosscoffs, where do they go? Ginger. That tells you all you need to know.
    It really is the best place to eat in Belfast

  • DK

    “Koo Kin Noodle bar”: That would be Foo Kin. Hence their lame advert “Foo Kin Fiver”. I walked in once – it looked like a dive and I walked out again.

    For chain restaurants I reccommend Tony Roma’s – big plates of quality food. Harry Ramsdens is consistent too.

  • DK

    Oh yes – Landsdowne hotel on the Antrim Road does an excellent carvery on Sunday – one for those whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs.

    Has anyone been to Beatrice Kennedy’s – I went years ago and the service was awful, but I’d like to know if it is any good now as it kind of intrigues me.

  • DK-

    Tony Roma’s- are you insane? I did a review of it here

    As for Foo Kin- it does exactly what it says on the tin. Great stuff altogether!

  • qubol

    DK, Harry Ramsdens is awful there are a million better places for fish and chips in Belfast.

  • DK

    El Mat – suggest you try one of the Rib combos – it is a Rib House, so your choice of a burger may have been bad. And you do say that you went there as the result of hearing other good reviews. I did have a very long wait to be served there once, so it is not all good.

    Qubol – Harry Ramsdens is consistent. Not the best. It is very child friendly, efficient and seated, this gives it an edge (for me).

  • DK-

    I always judge a place on its burgers 😉

    Café Vaudeville is good on the burger front- I also did a review of it before.

  • useful idiot

    The piece on last night’s news said they weren’t sticking a thermometer in the chicken enough at Roscoff.

    Maybe they just know how to cook.

  • DK

    Matador: “Café Vaudeville” – ah yes, had some mussels there that were barely cooked, but I survived and they were delicious.

    But there is more to life than burgers – although if you eat nothing else they can be a good barometer to compare certain restaurants. I remember one chef (Jamie Oliver?) saying that the way he tested restaurants was by asking for their garden salad, even if it wasn’t on the menu, and then seeing what they came up with.

  • esmereldavillalobos


    Was in Beatrice Kennedy’s 2 weeks ago – food has always been consistently good, service always distictly average. Had lovely gnocci and perfectly cooked beef – ‘er indoors and me took my parents – all were happy.

  • snakebrain

    DK – because Tony Roma’s is branded as a rib house excuses the fact they can’t serve a decent burger? It’s not exactly rocket science, and to be fair, if you put it on your menu, you should be able to cook it well.

    I suspect Manuel works in an eatery in Belfast somewhere as his list reads like a who’s who of upmarket non-entities. I can say however that his experience is pretty likely to be unrepresentative.

    I worked in TenSq, Northern Whig and a few others, and can tell you that if you are recognised as part of the restaurant fraternity, you get treated well everywhere you go. Since I’ve stepped out of that world, I’ve been treated abysmally by more waiters than I care to recall, had crap food, no response to complaints and a general failure to play the “hospitality” game on many occasions.

    I love food and eating out, but I very rarely do these days. I’ll have friends round and cook for them instead because I’ve just gotten sick and tired of the general standard of Belfast restaurants. It only takes one or two bad experience sto put me right off a place, especially if it’s the kind of experience that seems to stem from the organisational culture in a place.

    I’m going to try Ginger though, because it’s getting a lot of the right kind of comments here. Maybe it’ll restore my faith in Belfast restaurants.

    And Manuel, I’ll tip liberally if it’s good, and not at all if it’s not. Remember that.

  • moochin photoman

    Spences just off the Beersbridge rd in East Belfast is the best fish and chips in the town.
    Apparently the oldest fish and chip saloon in Belfast.
    Better go soon tho looks like the developers are moving in!!!
    There is For Cod and Ulster on the Albertbridge rd….a goege Best burger is chickenbreast burger and a standard burger……as the menu says “bird on top beef below”!

  • DK-

    “But there is more to life than burgers”

    Indeed, but they do act as a good barometer from place to place regardless of whether they are the ‘only thing’ one eats or not. I happen to enjoy a good steak actually, but a burger is something which is easy to compare. The Burger Test is basically my version of that Jamie Oliver (?) technique you mention 😉

  • picador


    For Cod And Ulster!? You are having a laugh?

  • Ginfizz

    Eddies Spence’s is without any shadow of a doubt the best fish and chip shop in Belfast. They use proper potatoes, mix their own batter and cook the fish once you order it – no sitting in a hot storage unit.

    Plus with all the nick-nacks on the walls etc. it’s like stepping back forty years everytime you go in. I really hope Spence’s never closes down. It’s an East Belfast institution.

  • Ginfizz

    PS. They still wrap your fish-supper in newspapers!

  • SlugFest

    Villa Italia on University Street has wonderful dishes.

    very tasty.

  • interested

    Always far better not knowing what goes on in a restaurant kitchen.

    Anyway, these awards don’t give marks for how good the food is – just how often the chef washes his hair or somethin.

    Wont be puttin me off a kebab in Esperanto before headin to a Northern Ireland match anyway.

  • “Villa Italia on University Street has wonderful dishes”

    I agree Slugfest. The place is virtually always packed to overflowing even during week-nights. Also try The Teppanyaki Restaurant beside The Waterfront Hall. Excellent food personally cooked by quality chefs…

  • SlugFest


    Thanks for the recommendation. I’m back in Belfast in two weeks — will be sure to dine in both eateries.

    Now if I could only find somewhere to find a decent cup of coffee while I’m there … 🙂

  • PS:

    They should also consider doing a survey on the dirtiest pubs in Belfast (with particular reference to the toilet areas). A few candidates that spring to mind are Benedicts in Shaftesbury Square (stomach-churning) and Robinsons (Revolting)…

  • USA

    They are not “my” bagels, I live in Philadelphia so I am not trying to plug my own establishment, I just feel they are the best bagels I have tasted outside the US and that is quite a compliment for Belfast.
    Check them out at http://www.Bagel-Bagel.co.uk
    Have a nice day.

  • moochin photoman

    Picador…….photographic evidence here……..


    Paisley is saying”Probably the best chippie in N Ireland” with Gerry replying “At least we agree on something”

    Having spoken with the owner he went around the political parties on both sides to check that it was ok. The menu is a sketch but the fish i had wasn’t that good. A case of style over substance methinks but its a laugh eh

  • miss fitz

    Cant believe noone mentioned Fat Buddha on the Lisburn Road. I think it got 5 stars in this rating system, and I am getting addicted to the food. I’ve been there several times for dinner, and had a take out last week which was sublime.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Dean’s Deli – what’s the score what that place?
    Every time I’ve been in the staff were hostile, lazy and seemed to have some excuse for why there was no food of any description available at perfectly normal times of the day.

    I guess there’s a pay peanuts, get monkey’s issue here and the sort of staff hanging around on minimun wage seem to expect a tip now as of right.
    I’d be much happier paying extra on fixed service included to somewhere that paid staff well and trained them properly.

  • I think you’ll find that almost all wait staff earn in and around minimum wage. And rather than have a go at the staff on minimum wage you should focus on the management. If there is something unavailable there is nothing the wait staff can do about it!

    And in every restaurant tips make up for our poor pay.

    How motivated would you be for a fiver or so an hour?

  • moochin photoman

    Ginger Bistro is in the running for an award here


    get your votes in for a richly deserved award