A flyer proclaims “Where there is life there is Hope Street, where there is Hope Street there is the Ginger Bistro” and that nicely sums up the attitude at redhead Simon ‘Ginger’ McCance’s chic and cheerful bistro just off Great Victoria Street.
Far from grand - except for a lovely mahogany floor and a tall window beautifully dressed with softly smoky leather trimmed voile - this Belfast restaurants a quirky place with two dining spaces, a partially visible kitchen, and décor ‘a bit like home’ with a mix’n’match of furniture and light fittings and acid green and deep mauve/purple accents.
Carefully sourced ingredients have always been at the centre of this likeable chef’s philosophy and, although you will find wide ranging influences on his constantly changing menus, you can be sure that the food that tastes so good will be local if possible.
Menus are balanced, offering a good choice of vegetarian dishes alongside appealing meat dishes like braised pork belly with creamy mash & rosemary jus, but seafood is what he likes to cook best: grilled sardines, for example or an aromatic tandoori of halibut with a warm hot, sweet & sour tomato chutney with green beans & pillaf rice.
And, although they don’t take themselves too seriously (there’s a light-hearted tone on blackboard notices etc), there’s no doubt that this is a place that is serious about the quality of both food and wine. Finish with a classic dessert (crème brulée with raspberry compôte, perhaps) or an Irish cheese selection.
Prices are reasonable and lunch/pre-theatre menus offer especially good value. In addition to carefully-chosen wines, there’s a full bar list.
Offering great food at affordable prices in a fun atmosphere, this is one of Belfast's most enduringly popular restaurants - and no wonder.