Set back somewhat from the main road, tall arched windows and a smartly painted Victorian frontage exude warmth, providing a vivid contrast to the stainless steel efficiency of the bar and de rigeur ‘on view’ kitchen of Alan Reid’s much admired restaurant.
After a courteous welcome, guests are led into a large and atmospheric L shaped room, which is light and airy, with shiny metal softened by terracotta pillars and discreet coverings.
Headed up by the fervent Brian McCann since 2004, a talented team of chefs are in pursuit of gastronomic excellence - McCann's unwavering enthusiasm for uncomplicated quality food is unmistakable in the menus at Shu. A complimentary nibble - olives with chilli and pickles, perhaps - augurs well for what is to follow, and menus really do have something to suit every taste and pocket.
This Belfast Restaurants choice of à la carte and set menus at lunch and dinner offer exceptional value, and illustrate this talented chef's dedication to seasonal provenance.
In season you may start with a light and perfectly executed early summer salad, with radish, peas, kabu turnip, sourdough crouton, wild garlic and crispy hen’s egg or perhaps that great local speciality, Lough Neagh smoked eel, with celeriac and parsley.
These, and perfecrly executed main courses such as grilled plaice fillet with oyster beignet, peas and samphire, or roast corn-fed chicken with peas, grelot onions, macaroni and Gruyère highlight McCann’s ability to enhance the classics with seasonal garnishes and so create modern brasserie favourites.
To finish, a refreshing dessert of Clandeboye yoghurt panna cotta with lychee, passion fruit granita or, for the sweeter tooth perhaps a gooey Valrhona chocolate fondant, with salted caramel and vanilla ice cream may win the day. Alternatively, a selection of European and Irish artisan cheeses is offered temptingly with Ditty's oatcakes and chutney.
Under the supervision of restaurant manager Julian Henry, an enthusiastic, friendly restaurant team offer a very professional service – and, to match the food, a well-researched wine list includes many choices available by the glass.
Downstairs, Shubar is a good place to enjoy pre or post dinner drinks, and an upstairs room is available for private parties.
With great food, service and atmosphere Shu continues to provide the Belfast restaurant scene with a good value, quality choice.