Categories: Food & Drink

Finding romance in romantic restaurants in Northern Ireland

Music may be the food of love, though understandably there will be times when you want something more substantial. Well, you’re in luck. Throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland there are culinary treats and foodie surprises around every corner. So wherever your travels take you on your romantic getaway, you’ll be delighted to know you’ll never get away from deliciously seasonal, locally produced food.

A table for two in Belfast

Deane’s EIPIC has won a prestigious Michelin Star accolade for four years in a row. And it’s not hard to see why. Known for its subtle flavours and stunning presentation, Mourne-native Alex Green uses predominantly local produce to create magic.

The chic, yet comfortable, Café Parisien is naturally the place for a romantic, French-inspired evening. Brasserie classics take on a modern twist here. Contemporary Italian is on the menu at Coppi and Home is all about fresh, local and seasonal feel good food.

Romance will blossom too at the riverside Michelin-starred OX restaurant. Or go bistro, with a New York vibe, at local favourite James Street South. And as no romantic getaway is complete without oysters, try Mourne Seafood Bar - a great city centre spot for freshly-caught affordable seafood.

If you share a passion for food, Taste and Tour run award-winning food and drink tours across the city, introducing you to the tastes, the people and the history of Belfast.

Then, for sheer glamour and the romance of a bygone era, enjoy afternoon tea at Titanic Belfast. There’s also a photo op at a replica of the ship’s iconic staircase – not to be missed. And it’s always worth a stop at The Merchant Hotel (5*) for a cocktail – they’ve an encyclopaedic cocktail list and equally encyclopaedic knowledge.  

Loving artisan in Antrim

There’s lots to love about the traditional Irish Pub experience at Billy Andy’s, including local and contemporary fine food. Sleepy Hollow, just outside Belfast, is strong on technique, creating modern Irish food, sourced from small artisan producers. While Castello Italia brings a passion for innovative Italian cooking to Carrickfergus.

For cosy breakfasts and lunch, try The Dairy at Gleno, Or, if a romantic stroll takes you to Whitehead, pop into The Lighthouse Bistro off the colourful promenade. This small, award-winning family-run restaurant makes everything from scratch. And, of course, from local produce.

And dinner has to be at the enchanting Ballygally Castle Hotel (4*). Set within its original 17th century walls, the Garden Restaurant has a menu of delicious seasonal fare – and views all the way across the Irish Sea. 

Embracing local in Armagh

Newforge House (5*) - a historic family-run country house - delights in providing warm hospitality and local seasonal food in the most romantic of settings. Desserts are made with fresh fruit from their own orchard – well, Armagh is Orchard County. And their gin list features favourites from around the world, including Shawcross Gin from nearby Downpatrick.

The Restaurant at Ballydougan Pottery is a picturesque spot for lunch or afternoon tea, with everything prepared in-house. Even the plates are baked on site. And, just like relationships, keeping it fresh is best. At Stinton’s on the Bridge, the freshness shines through in every bite of this modern edged, traditional food. 

Mulberry Bistro sits opposite the Armagh city’s Roman Catholic St. Patrick’s Cathedral – a spectacular backdrop for any meal. Here, locally sourced produce finds its way to the menu every day. While Uluru Bar & Grill, inspired by bustling Melbourne pop up restaurants, brings an Australian flavour to the city centre.

While you’re in town, check out the Hole in the Wall pub. It’s full of local character - and local characters - a popular venue for music and, allegedly, home to a ghost.

Romantic pauses on the Causeway Coastal Route

The wonderful Tartine restaurant at The Distillers Arms is all about simplicity. It’s modern brasserie food, with a nod to Irish classics. And, it’s just three kilometres from the Giant’s Causeway – the perfect spot to sit and watch a stunning sunset. 

At the French Rooms, you’ll find French-inspired, elegant dishes. Plus cosy hideaway snugs, perfect for afternoon teas.

Tapas, of course, are made for sharing. A great opportunity to get up close and personal. Ocho Tapas in Portrush serve you up the most delicious selection of authentic tapas, then show you how to do it – if you’re staying round long enough for a cookery class.
You’ll also find the Rathmore here. An eclectic mix of restaurants and wine bars with something to suit every taste.

Or if romance leads you to a paddle at the water’s edge, Harry’s Shack is right beside you. On the beach, that is, serving fantastic local produce – including fish, of course. 

Dining out in Derry-Londonderry

The elegant Bishop’s Gate Hotel within the city walls is a stylish setting for a special dinner, with both the Gown Restaurant and the Wig Champagne Bar - which also hosts local music performers in its Gigs at the Wig. 

Award-winning Browns in Town is loved by both local and visiting foodies - and known for its excellent food, trendy venue and warm hospitality. It’s also a top spot for speciality cocktails. The buzzy Sooty Olive, in the Waterside area, is a favourite for couples and at Caterina’s at the Da Vinci Hotel you get a modern day bistro with a good-time feel. And for true Derry-Londonderry flavour, the multi-award winning Walled City Brewery is a must for flavoursome food and local craft beer. 

Candlelight cuisine in Down

Roaring fires and candlelight set the scene at Clenaghan’s Restaurant, a most romantic setting for incredible food and a genuinely warm welcome in this near 300 year old traditional stone building. There’s plenty of atmosphere too, at No. 14 at The Georgian House in Comber. Cosy hearths, apple trees, centuries of history and a modern take on Irish cuisine. 

Modern romance too at Noble. It’s love at first sight - or bite - in this highly-regarded and exciting restaurant, with its changing seasonal menu.  Brunel’s has a mission too. To create dishes that challenge and inspire. So, get ready for a bold and creative gourmet menu. While if seafood is close to your heart, Mourne Seafood in Dundrum is the place to be.

With Down’s golden sandy beaches on one side and the Royal Country Down Golf Links on the other, you’d be hard pushed to find a more inviting spot for a romantic dinner. The wonderful Slieve Donard Resort and Spa (4*) offers both fine dining in its elegant Oak Restaurant and a more relaxed version in its Percy French Inn.

Fine dining by the lakeside

On the border of Tyrone and Fermanagh, the glamorous Corick House Hotel & Spa (4*) does history with a decidedly modern and romantic flourish. Perfect for a special dinner for two. Its stylish Georgian Carleton Restaurant offers the best of contemporary Irish European cuisine. While the Blackwater Bar and Grill provides lighter snacks and welcoming open fires.

Lough Erne Resort (5*) has everything you could wish for in a lakeside setting. It’s also home to the Catalina restaurant, known for its exceptionally fine dining. And ability to transform seasonal local produce into show-stopping classic and contemporary dishes.

On the shores of Upper Lough Erne, the award-winning Watermill Lodge is about as picturesque as it’s possible to be. This stunning restaurant serves up Irish cuisine with a French twist – alongside mature water gardens where you can watch the sun go down with an after-dinner Digestif. 

It’s food to fall in love with, in some of the world’s most inviting and welcoming places. And if that’s just whetted your appetite for all that Northern Ireland has to offer, it’s time to plan a return romantic getaway very, very soon.