WITH the nights drawing in, Eglantine Avenue’s Malone Lodge Hotel, with its welcoming Narnia-esque Victorian lamps at its exterior, was the destination for my companion and I to sample some early Christmas fayre.

The hotel’s Knife and Fork Restaurant was warmly inviting, with snug burgundy leather banquettes to slip into, as we were greeted by Food and Beverage Supervisor Colm Clarke who welcomed us to sample their festive dining menu.

With drinks ordered, starters soon arrived of Fivemiletown Goats Cheese and Cranberry Bruschetta with a mulled wine dressing; cinnamon stick and pineapple gin cured smoked salmon with a mango and pineapple salad. Both starters were delicious. The pairing of the goat’s cheese with cranberry proved a winner with the marriage of the smoked salmon and mango and pineapple salad proving just the right serving and palate cleanser as we awaited the next course. For mains – and this is were we were really spoilt – servings of County Antrim turkey, baked ham with honey mustard chipolatas, and braised feather blade of beef with charred cabbage, horseradish and baby onion jus were presented. To really get a ‘flavour’ of what diners can expect if they book with the hotel, a third main of maple and whiskey glazed salmon fillet with a celeriac and chorizo puree with salsa verde was served – and belts promptly loosened. The feather blade of beef was hailed as one of the best dishes my companion had ever eaten. It was melt in the mouth with the horseradish and baby onion jus mopped up by the charred cabbage.

Bowls of perfectly cooked roast potatoes, creamy mash, buttered sprouts with roasted almonds and carrots and parsnips were also served from the pass as we tucked into Christmas.

After a rest it was into dessert and one of my favourites – traditional Christmas pudding served with Brandy Créme Anglaise and a Christmas Mess a creation of winter berries, crushed meringue and sprinkles of fudge. The Christmas pudding was a triumph. If ever a dish was created to sum up the festive season then Head Chef Liam Mooney’s pud was it. The pudding was the right side of moorish, packed full of sultanas with the light Brandy crème custard creating a perfect partnership. The Christmas Mess was devoured across the table as we finished with a cappuccino already planning to make our repeat booking as the countdown to December 25 gets underway.
Malone Lodge Hotel festive lunch is priced at £25 per person with dinner at £29 per person. Both include a Christmas cocktail.

The hotel is also taking bookings for their Christmas Day Lunch served from 1pm-4pm. Adults are priced at £85 per person with children under 12 priced at £40.
Booking is strongly advisable.

Malone Lodge Hotel & Apartments
60 Eglantine Ave, Malone Road, Belfast BT9 6DY
Tel: 028 9038 8000