This informal restaurant and fish shop is owned by respected chef Andy Rae and business partner Bob McCoubrey, of the original Mourne Seafood Bar in Dundrum, Co Down (see entry), who have their own shellfish beds on Carlingford Lough, and it has become a Belfast institution.
Passing a well-stocked display of fish (including lobster, oysters etc), you go through a dark brown painted door which opens onto a long bar with an authentic Belfast feel; a world away from your designer bar concept, the old walls are a mixture of red brick and black areas acting as large chalkboards for the menu and cocktail list, floorboards have been roughly painted black, tables are simply set and there’s more of the same upstairs - where the Oyster Bar is a popular weekend venue. It's also available for private parties (Mon-Thu only) and used for overflow at busy times.
The passion for seafood shared by Andy and his team is evident - starting with the sourcing. Head chef Gerard Doran uses less popular local fish rather than trendy imports and, of course, mussels and oysters from Carlingford - everything is homemade and the menu, which offers a mix of dishes at varying prices, changes daily according to the catch (a steak option is also offered).
This Belfast Restaurants daily specials board might offer 15 dishes, including potted herrings, seafood casserole or roast hake. Tempting desserts, good coffee to finish and lovely service.
The drinks menu also offers some treats, notably Mourne Oyster Stout, which was developed by Whitewater Brewery together with Bob McCoubrey and Andy Rae to complement their seafood.
Andy Rae and Bob McCoubrey are a dynamic duo, and involved in some other exciting initiatives:
*The associated Belfast Cookery School (www.belfastcookeryschool.com) is in Castle Street Belfast at the rear of the Mourne Seafood Bar. A wide range of courses is offered.
*Mourne Seafood Bar, The Cookbook (£20 online).
*Their highly successful pop-up restaurant HOME (Tel: 02890 234946; www.homepopup.com) which began life on Callender Street, is at 22 Wellington Place Belfast, BT1 6GE.
ALSO AT: Dundrum Co Down and Charlotte Quay, Dublin.