Tucked away in a back street of Belfast’s vibrant and bustling Cathedral Quarter, The Muddlers Club is a real find. The place is steeped in history as it’s named after the secret society that used to meet there over 200 years ago.
Passageways illustrated with street art lead to an industrial building displaying fairy lights and a welcoming sign.
Its hidden location suggests an air of secrecy and exclusivity, yet The Muddlers Club is friendly and informal. A snooty place it isn’t but make no mistake, the food is top class yet reasonably priced for its exceptional quality.
The cool industrial-style décor, with its muted greys and exposed ducts, is complemented by the warm tones of the wooden floors, tables and chairs. The restaurant is dimly lit with light coming from the large windows, open kitchen, modern chandeliers and flickering candles.
The Muddlers Club offers a small, focused menu with fresh, local ingredients at the forefront. The dishes don’t have names. They are described by their ingredients which makes the presentation a surprise, especially the desserts. The dishes are simple but they’re meticulously prepared. Every single item we ordered was a work of art!
I first visited Ondine shortly after chef-patron Roy Brett launched it six years ago. The food and service were so memorable that I vowed to return. I recently had the opportunity to have my birthday meal at this luxurious seafood restaurant in Edinburgh and it was as wonderful as I remembered… even better, if that’s at all possible.
Ondine isn’t easy to spot from the street. From the George IV Bridge entrance of an unassuming building, it’s a flight of stairs (lift available) to the first floor so it very much feels like a hidden gem. The restaurant is beautifully decorated with its high ceilings, large windows, mosaic columns, quirky artwork and stunning circular oyster bar.
The origin of the word “ondine” comes from the name of a water nymph, so it was only fitting to have a painting titled “Mermaids of Iona” in the lobby. Paulo was particularly delighted with the image… because the colours matched his suit and shirt. No other reason, of course!
We were given a table by the window with a lovely view over Victoria street. We chose an early time for our dinner reservations so it was quiet when we arrived but by the time we left, the place was full, including the oyster bar. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was relaxed and pleasant.