Name: Square Bistro

Location: 18 Lisburn Square, Lisburn, BT28 1TS

Our experience: Back in September (2016) Square Bistro offered tapas for two as a prize for FoodNIHour, which we were chuffed to win. With an excellent reputation and mouthwatering photos on their Facebook page (seriously, check them out!) our expectations were high.

We opted for a range of tapas plates (five for £12 – about right for one person). Most of the dishes aren’t conventional tapas, closer to the now-ubiquitous ‘small plates’, but tasty nonetheless.

tapas

A selection of the tapas we tried

The feta fritters were a pleasing combination of crunchy, salty and sweet – on par Coppi’s famous equivalent. The nutty satay skewers were perfectly cooked and full of flavour. The chilli prawns had just the right amount of heat while the pasta (in lieu of the orzo) with pesto was quite salty but filling. The only disappointment was the sauce with the patatas bravas, which lacked a bit of spice.

For finish, on the recommendation of our waitress, Robert had the Turkish delight crème brulee (his favourite). The subtle rose flavour in the custard stopped it from being cloying after a substantial meal. It was lovely to try a new twist on a perennial pudding pick! All in all, Square’s ‘Tapas Tuesday’ is a good mid- week treat. If you have a jug of sangria (which is boozier and fruitier than many we’ve tried) it really is very good value for money. If you throw in puddings, a couple of drinks, coffees, you’re talking the best part of £50/60 for two – still very reasonable.

The delicately flavoured Turkish delight creme brulée, delicious.

Best bits: Very competitive price. Broad selection on the menu. Service was very good.

Worst bits: Banquette seating wasn’t very comfortable.

Service quality: The service was very friendly. Everything arrived as ordered. Waitress gave good recommendations, particularly the Turkish delight crème brulee!

Opening hours: Monday – 9:30am – 3pm, Tuesday-Thursday – 9:30am-3pm; 5-8:30pm, Friday & Saturday – 9:30am – 3pm; 5-9pm, Sunday – closed

Website: https://www.squarebistro.co.uk

Twitter: @squarebistroNI

Instagram: N/A

Facebook: Square Bistro

Atmosphere: Relaxed, service was attentive but not over-bearing.

Rating: 3.5 out 5

Cuisine: A mix – a la carte is mostly French/Spanish. Tapas and Curry.

Food hygiene rating: 5 out of 5

Price/Special offers: Mid-range Early bird offers; lunch deal, Mon-Fri 2 mains from a selection for £16

BYOB: No

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Name: Miel et Moi

Location: 703 Lisburn Road, Belfast

Our experience: 

Enchanté! No one does romance better than the French, with their charming accents, chic sense of style and incredible cuisine they are a nation that evokes exquisite quality and taste. Setting such impeccable standards may be the reason why only a handful of restaurants across Northern Ireland have successfully attempted traditional French cuisine in their restaurant.

Miel et Moi opened in 2015 and was a welcome addition to the Lisburn Road, offering something quite unique. Not only is this café striving to go beyond offering the traditional traybake but it is Northern Ireland’s first licenced patisserie and café bar. Whether it is a romantic date, celebration or afternoon tea with friends this cafés plush décor certainly gives the place a sense of occasion. The outdoor picket fence astro-turf garden with outdoor heaters and garden furniture gives the café real kerb appeal to any passer-by. Inside, the combination of greens, pinks and golds with lots of mood lighting from the chandeliers is classy and on-point. It’s one of our favourite places to visit – we even have our own wee spot at the back of the café which allows us to soak up all that’s going on around us (we are two nosey parkers!).

Their patisserie menu is varied and prices range from £2.50 – £4.50 which is very reasonable. To date we have tried several things from this menu including the carrot cake, chocolate salted caramel tartlette, mini black forest gateau and red velvet cakes. These all tasted good and were well presented, however their flavour still are hard to compare to those of a real bakery in France.

We have had dinner twice here and the food has always been really tasty. I would definitely recommend the pan seared chicken breast with spiced squash puree, chorizo and spring onion potato cake (£13.95). A combination of powerful flavours but all working together well.

Every time we are here we have really enjoyed the experience. This place is well worth a visit – the only thing missing is some French background music and the French maître D from First Dates!

Best bits: The décor and seating both inside and out makes this place feel special. The hot food and drink is really good.

Worst bits: The various pastries and other sweet treats look fantastic, but the flavour doesn’t always match. The pastry for the tarte aux framboises, for example, was bland and the buttercream in the Victoria sponge was very sweet.

Service quality: Always very friendly and efficient. The waiting staff are always willing to help make recommendations. The till/payment system feels a bit awkward, though. On the occasions we have been there, we were asked to pay at the till, which is located at the end of the counter, the busiest part of the venue. Amid all the hustle and bustle, this can mean a bit of a wait to pay.

Opening hours: Mon-Sat – 8am-1am, Sunday 8am-12am

Website: http://www.mieletmoi.com/

Twitter: @Miel_Et_Moi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mieletmoibelfast/

Atmosphere: Sophisticated, but relaxed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Cuisine: French with a local twist

Food hygiene rating: Not given

Price/special offers: ££  Afternoon tea £17.50pp

BYOB: No