Becoming cosmopolitan

With so many blogs about the brilliant lives of Londoners, New Yorkers and Parisiens, I think we're all guilty of overlooking the great things our own cities have to offer. I'll be the first to admit that I dream a lot about moving away - to England, to Paris; anywhere but here! Reading Rose' s blog posts make me wish that I lived somewhere more exciting, with more restaurants, fine foods and cute cafés.   As I stated when I wrote about my trip to the market,  I tend to think of Belfast as being dull, filled with dirty streets and shopping chains. 

I really have got to stop being so prejudiced!

I had a music exam on Saturday and it's a tradition of ours that we go for coffee or lunch after the big event is over. (Note to musicians: consider Grade 7 very carefully. Aurals are a nightmare!) Mum knew how stressed I'd been feeling and so we decided to lunch at Deane and Decano - an offshoot of Michael Deane's Michelin-starred Eipic. She knows how much I like eating out and exploring new restaurants and so I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity! 

Deane and Decano is a chilled restaurant with a beautiful muted décor. The bar is made out of a huge chunk of hewn and polished wood, supported by creamy slats. (My dream kitchen right there.) It's clean and simple and feels classy without being too stuffy. 

The menu has a distinctly Italian flavour to it, with a great selection of antipasti, fresh fish and pasta, as well as soups and panini. I decided to be virtuous and picked one of the day's specials: a smoked salmon and crab salad. The crab was light and fresh, with touches of chilli, lemon and capers cutting through the mayonnaise. Smoked salmon was complimented by little morsels of semi-dried tomatoes and accompanied by a selection of salad leaves. Delicioso! 

Mum chose the goats' cheese and aubergine tartlet. The flavours sounded fantastic! I wasn't able to get a picture of this one but she assures me that it was tasty. 

Dad went for a panino filled with marinated courgettes, peppers and smoky Oakwood cheese from NI's very own Five Mile Town Creamery. This was warm and toasty, complete with a little bit of salad so as not to make it feel too greasy.

Here's a tip for those with a sweet tooth like me: order a light main and you can pick any of the desserts on offer without feeling too bad! Mum and I decided to copy each other and ordered the warm almond cake with lemon syrup and mascarpone. This was divine - warm and moist with a sweet syrup and topped with crunchy toasted almonds. Definitely going on the list of things to bake! 

Pistachio Bronte ice-cream for Dad. We weren't totally sure of the significance of 'Bronte', but the ice-cream tasted wonderful - and it came complete with its very own little wafer. 

Overall, I was really impressed with Deane and Decano. Portions were just the right size and the quality of the food was excellent. It's not too expensive either! I felt as if I could be in London, having a sophisticated lunch out with the family. I could see it working equally well as a destination for evening drinks with friends at the snazzy little prosecco bar. 

Deane and Decano gives me hope for the future. Maybe there is some life in Belfast after all!