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 increasingly 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 seriously talented team of chefs are in serious pursuit of gastronomic excellence here - McCann's past experiences with culinary greats both home and away, coupled with his unique unwavering enthusiasm for uncomplicated quality food are unmistakable in the menus at Shu. Olives with chilli and pickles offer a small taste of what is to follow, in menus that really do have something to suit every taste and pocket.
This Belfast Restaurants got a choice of à la carte and set menus at lunch and dinner offer exceptional value, and illustrate this chef's dedication to seasonal provenance. In season you may start with a light and perfectly executed risotto of summer vegetables, with mascarpone, basil, extra virgin olive oil, or Shu’s legendary duck confit packed with flavour and falling off the bone, perfectly paired with tangy mango salsa and a light jus.
Main courses such as curry dusted yellow fin tuna with avocado purée, coriander cress and sauce vierge (served rare) or roast corn-fed chicken, with mash, ragoût of peas, bacon and baby gem is testament to McCann’s ability to effectively combine the classics with brassiere favourites.
To finish, a refreshing dessert of Dunleath estate strawberries, mint and soft vanilla ice cream (simple perfection - a high point of a recent visit by the guide) or, for the sweeter tooth perhaps a Valrhona chocolate tart, coffee foam and vanilla ice cream may win the day.
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 iincludes 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.