Well if you want a bit of old time elegance The Fitzwilliam hotel is the location for you. The ‘Fitz’ has more similarities than it’s name with London’s ‘The Ritz’ as it oozes a sparkling atmosphere and retro glam. Upon arrival we were greeted by the Maître’d Robin Laird who was really friendly and quite the sommelier. I asked him to recommend a bottle of white wine and he brought us the perfect accompaniment to what we had ordered. Although the wine was white, it seemed to encompass the deeper notes one would expect with a red whilst retaining the sweetness and lightness. This was perfect as I was having seafood and my partner red meat – I recommend asking for a recommendation!
Freshly baked bread was brought to our table as soon as we arrived and it was soo more-ish. The creamy butter and black olive tapenade worked together really well and the tapenade was incredible. It had all the flavour and punch you’d expect from a tapenade but avoided being excessively salty and had sweetness from the olive giving it an overall very fresh taste. The starters we choose were the seafood risotto, Iberico sharing platter and the duck spring rolls. All three were delicious in completely different way. In the sharing platter the meats were varied and gorgeous, the celeriac remoulade was creamy and sharp and we were treated to more of the tapenade. In the spring rolls the duck was juicy yet encased in crisp light filo pastry and the tangy mango dip really gave a kick to the sweet and smoky duck flavour. In my risotto the cleansing and delicate flavour of citrus and parsley worked beautifully with the creaminess of the perfectly cooked risotto. Then the wild garlic hits the palate adding a savoury and sweet note, a really complex and beautifully executed dish.
For main course I had the fish of the day, sea bass with an apple salad and beetroot puree. It really was wonderful – the beetroot and apple were powerhouses of flavour that rather than overpowering the sea bass worked together to accentuate the light and softness of the fish. The sea bass was seared beautifully on the skin and my partner who was horrified at my eating ‘fish skin’ marvelled how deliciously crispy it was, it also complimented to the soft texture of fish. My partner told me his steak was “perfect” – however I didn’t get to try any as between concentrating on my own dish and his wolfing it down it went too quickly. His triple cooked chips, onion rings and béarnaise sauce I did manage to get a bit of and all three were gorgeous – classic and wonderful steak dinner accompaniments. The sides were good – the Caesar salad was particularly good and I’d go back and order that as a main. Torn between which desserts to choose we were lucky to be able to order a small selection of all the desserts. The Valhrona chocolate tart was rich, glossy and the accompanying ice cream offset the darkness of the chocolate. The lemon posset was sharp yet creamy without being too sweet – but lovely as they were they were outshone by the sticky toffee pudding. Even the table next to us was oooh-ing and aaaah-ing about how delicious it was. And luckily it never goes off the menu due to its popularity. The head chef Michael Dargan certainly demonstrated his ability to both experiment with unusual flavour combinations and pull it off and do the classics to perfection. For great food and atmosphere in a right in the centre of Belfast look no further.
All images taken on the night and are not staged or Photoshop