Northern Ireland produce is stamped all over the menus at the CAE-bar restaurant at Belfast’s MAC arts venue, the signature building on the beautiful St Anne’s Square in the Cathedral Quarter.
It takes up part of the open ground floor and mezzanine space and the décor is industrial style, with large concrete block walls and dark colours - but the food, as is to be expected of any enterprise that The Yellow Door puts its name to, is vibrant and packed full of flavour.
It’s open from breakfast until late, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, bites and cocktails - and while pared back, with bare tables, bentwood chairs and simple tableware, there is no skimping on the quality of the food.
Showcasing locally produced food and drink is the team's mission - and some of the salads and herbs are very local indeed, having been grown in outdoor spaces around the MAC, while most other fresh ingredients are grown by The Yellow Door - and, of course, their famed baked products feature prominently too.
The menus - 'All Day' and 'NATIVE Bites' (both 12-5pm, or 7.30pm on show nights), Pre-Theatre (5-7pm,pm on show nights only ) and a super 'real food' Kid's Menu (from 12 noon), all read like a Who's Who of Northern Ireland artisan food and drink production with special mention going to Ewings Seafood, Leggygowan Farm, Clandeboye Yoghurt and Fruitvale Eggs, also drinks including McGraths Irish Ales, MacIvors Ciders and Shortcross Gin.
Trusted butchers Doran’s of Lisburn supply the meats for Head Chef Sean McCann and a dynamic kitchen team to rustle up dishes that are as tasty as they are popular, including the trademark burger. There's a gorgeous Glenarm salmon dish with beetroot that's cured in Ruby Blue vodka- and a pretty Superfood Salad is just one among the many dishes that vegetarians will enjoy.
Some dishes - such as the NATIVE Burger (Doran’s 6oz beef burger, mature Irish cheddar, crispy bacon, tomato and chilli jam), which is served with a Yellow Door buttermilk roll and chunky chips, also feature in miniature on the NATIVE Bites menu, which includes a platter of three small dishes with or without a glass of wine or a bottle of Mourne Mountain brewery beer at £9.50/£13 - and there's a further option of including a tasting board of three local craft ales or ciders (£16).
Working under the direction of co-owner and Restaurant Manager, Marianne Hood, very attentive, efficient staff and charming know the menu inside out, thoughtfully advising on the best choices.
It's good fun, delicious and good value for the quality too. Well worth a visit, theatre or not.