The scent of grilling meat greets us on the pavement as we walk towards Hadskis, Niall and Joanne McKenna's bristo in the cathedral quarter of Belfast.
Hadskis a few centuries ago was an iron mongers, owned by a Mister Hadskis. The name is clever and memorable, as is spending time in the restaurant.
Stewart Hadskis in 1760 opened an iron foundry where the present day restaurant is, he made boilers for local bleachers and pots and pans. The tie to the history of Belfast in the name of the restaurant is clever and McKenna has done well here, creating a clean space with a laidback vibe. That is lovely to spend time in.
Lots of steel and slate grey, with soft leather banquettes are accented by bright red pepper grinders.
The room is long and thin, a steel bar counter runs through a third of the room, Head Chef David Scott and his team work quickly, their concentration and passion, for what they are doing etched on their faces. Upstairs there is a private dining room, which can be booked for parties of 12 to 24 comfortably, it has a private bar and waiter service.
Seating at the bar or at high tables are at the Donegall Street end, or normal height tables on the Commercial Court side, of the restaurant offer a variety of dining sitting positions, opening up the welcome to people wanting a variety of things from their dining experiences.
A man reading a paper sits at the bar, while a young couple hold hands sitting side by side just by him. The restaurant buzzs with energy, there are couples and groups of friends enjoying the laidback Sunday vibe, while others are celebrating. A family with young children are welcomed warmly. Everyone has a place at Hadskis.
Along with stoves and rings, the chefs have a closed BBQ to grill on in their galley kitchen, allowing meats to be seared at the highest temperatures, meaning the meat starts to carmelise immediately and infuse with a smoky BBQ flavour. Although we were there for brunch Salt and Sparkle team members have since been back for steak, and were very impressed with the meat's succulence, and tender taste.
Hadskis Brunch menu is refreshing in its simplicity. Fruit, yogurt, different ways with eggs, and waffles or French Toast, sit alongside juices, herbal teas and coffees. Produce is mainly locally sources, provenance is not listed on the menu. Rashers and sausages are juicy and full of flavour, eggs have bright yellow yolks.
It is compelling to watch Chef Scott his focus is intense and he works silently, defly and smoothly to cook tasty real plates of food, that have been carefully thought out.
I opt for eggs sunnyside up on grilled rosemary foccacia with juicy rashers of Irish smoked bacon, the dish is plentiful and delicious. The bread is charred rather than toasted offering another layer of smoke flavour, which compliments the bacon, the spikey rosemary flavour is warming. There is layer upon layer of flavour in this dish, soft sweet smoky meat that oozes through my fingers, on crisp bread, and smooth rich eggs spill runny yolks across my plate.
Cranberry mixed with orange is refreshing.
Staff are knowledgable, pleasant and very welcoming, they want you to have a good experience, and enjoy your time in the restaurant, nothing is too much trouble for them. Niall himself pops in and its great to talk to a man with such passion and enthusiam for what he does.
Bright ruby grapefruit, drizzled with honey mixes sweet and sour.
Granola is a mix of rich plump dried fruit - cranberries, black and golden raisins, roasted oats and seeds. It us served with a berry granola, and runny yogurt. The combination of smooth silky yogurt, chewy fruit and crisp oats is delicious, and very morish.
Running natural yogurt and sweet berry compote have complimenting sweet and sour flavours, soft and chewy at the same time. Served in rather striking concial bowls, there is a sense that everything at Hadskis's has been well thought through, I especially like the teapots with their little rubber handles.
Hadskis have a great wine list, and currently hold a Wine Mondays event, diners eat three courses with three specially chosen wines - a rather fun way to spend a Monday evening, and something to look forward to, as you make it through the workday.
The Hadskis cooked breakfast with two eggs, rashers of smoked bacon, large field mushrooms, pieces of black and white pudding and a tomato, although missing its friends soda and potato bread, the sheer quality of the ingredients shine through on the plate. The sausages and puddings are full of flavour, the rashers rich and the eggs have a full rounded taste.
Although busy Chef Scott makes time to chat to me about making foccacia giving me some tips about knocking back twice, he sends down a portion of the grilled bread to our table, it is served with a ramkin of Abernethy Butter. Thick creamy country butter, on fresh bread, you can't beat it with a big stick.
Waffles, deliciously crisp on the outside, with soft fluffy centres, were delicious, served with syrup and a freshly cut fruit salad.
Its atmosphere and energy from the open kitchen make it a pleasure to spend time in, everyone including children were welcome at brunch. Food is served with style and knowledge. Niall McKennas vision for simple, delicious and well cooked accessible food is executed with percision and excellent by Chef Scott and his team and the waiting staff.
Hadskis is a good restaurant, offering brunch, lunch and dinner, as well as drinks and cocktails, you can smell it before you see it, and the smell will wet your appetite, we hope you will enjoy your dining experience there as much as we did.
That's it for now ...
Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable