Feeling a bit adventurous I decided we should try Teatro on Botanic Avenue, Belfast’s first cabaret restaurant.
Teatro has a real bohemian feel, from its vintage inspired furniture to the chequered floor.
A Spanish guitarist serenaded diners from a small stage, and the front bay window lit with white fairy lights hid Belfast and transported us to a café in Madrid.
The Mediterranean influenced menu includes European and Marrakech inspired dishes, although we returned to Belfast when we realised the surroundings might be cafe chic but the prices were fine dining.
Starters and tapas ranged from £5.85 to £8.00, we ordered the chorizo in red wine with crusty bread and the Spanish omelette with peppers and potato to share.
The limited choice of main courses consisted of six dishes; a lamb, chicken, fish, steak, pasta of the day and veggie option, ranging from £11.95 to £19.95. Side orders were priced separately at £3.95 each.
I choose the spiced cod with lemon, caper and alioli sauce and skinny fries and the other half had the lamb kafta, with couscous and pita bread.
Next was the obligatory bottle of wine poured into old fashioned glass goblets, we settled for the house white but a healthy selection was on offer.
Mismatched flowery side plates not unlike those displayed in granny’s china cabinet dressed the table. Salt and pepper were absent, a bold statement indeed but when the food arrived it needed nothing more.
The chorizo was crisp and the strong flavour of paprika left a lingering smoky taste which the red wine did not over power. The sliced potato and sweet peppers infused with a chilli kick elevated the humble egg in the Spanish omelette to grand heights.
The wait between courses was substantial but it was worthwhile. A spicy batter gave the soft cod a real heat and when coupled with the almost metallic and bitter taste of the sauce was a marriage made in the mouth.
In that moment I understood why Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace salivates with his eyes closed over perfectly balanced food.
The lamb meatballs were well seasoned and came with two dipping sauces, one mint and the other tomato and roasted red pepper.
I promised we would only examine the dessert menu for the purposes of this review. However the churros con chocolate were impossible to resist but at a pricey £6.50 each, one was enough.
These Spanish donuts served with a dark chocolate sauce were crispy on the outside with a spongy centre that did not disappoint.
As a dining experience Teatro is intimate and relaxed but service is slow and the tables are close together. The guitarist only played for 20 minutes and although expensive, the quality of the food adequately outshone any cabaret performance he could have offered.
For more information on Teatro visit http://www.viewbelfast.co.uk/restaurants/teatro-info-67086.html or for other Belfast restaurants http://www.gotobelfast.com/
Reviewer Michelle Loughran