Review: Solo

As far as location, location, location goes, it's hard to beat Belfast's Solo Restaurant & Bar. Tucked away on Wellington Place, not too far from the City Hall and even less far away from where Past Times used to be, Solo is its own refreshingly enjoyable pastime in both its ambience and food.

First impressions are that it will have an oriental feel, the red façade and the stars in the front window hinting at both Royal David's City and a Rising Sun. My hope is that this will be an eatery for all types and all seasons. On that account, I am proven correct.

Zebra-striped wallpaper is entwined with pictures of various worldwide landmarks and cities (behind me, one can see the beautiful Spanish port of Alicante), creating a cosmopolitan effect to go with the dim but relaxing lighting and comforting décor. Add in friendly staff and relaxing piano music and you have an almost intoxicating concoction that detaches you entirely from the rush and bustle of the outside world.

The a la carte menu presents an eclectic mix of Indian cuisine to go with the more familiar selection of fish and meat dishes that form the crux of the starters and mains. While the temptation is there to warm up fast with pea and ham soup, then a chicken tikka to follow, I instead revise my initial instinct for a combination of fish and steak, salt & chilli squid preceding a ten ounce medium sirloin.
Now, remember that moment in Friends where (an admittedly stoned) Jon Lovitz digs in to Monica's starters like a rocket and proclaims he could eat a hundred of them?

Well, I feel exactly that with the squid, except here, I ought to be conscious of not spoiling my appetite. The trouble is, with a starter as easy to eat and as tantalizing as this, that is easier said than done.

Numerous pieces of crisply coated fish are accompanied by an irresistible chili and lime aioli and an Asian slaw that is just the right mixture of tangy and spicy. We're talking a genuinely medium Nando's effect, only enhanced to hot by a slightly excessive consumption of chili for which I only have myself to blame. Never mind, that's what cold drinks are for calming.
To say they spoil you with the mains would be an understatement.

It's not long before I get enthusiastically Chewie on Solo's sirloin (sorry, couldn't resist!), a large, hot and tenderly cooked steak seasoned nicely by rocket salad and a thick enough pepper sauce. The garlic chips are well cut and chunky with only a mere semblance of garlic.

It's all more filling than it appears, worthy of what our friends on the other side of the Atlantic would call a belated Thanksgiving, albeit without Turkey. By meal's end one should have plenty thanks to give.
Unable to decide on the more appealing dessert I am (surprisingly, and happily) presented with half a sticky toffee pudding and half a Bailey's cheesecake.

The latter edges out the former slightly by virtue of variety in its layers. In every way, it's substance over style, like the rich, energising and minimally frothy cappuccino that concludes my visit to this delectable restaurant.
Now, has anyone got a toothpick?

Simon Fallaha

Solo Restaurant & Bar can be found at 11 Wellington Place. They are open from 12 to 21:30 Monday to Thursday, 12 to 22:30 on Friday and Saturday, and 13:00 to 21:00 on Sunday. For more information check out

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