Review: Silver Street

There is little talk of a silver lining when I walk out of the Derry-Londonderry sun and into the shadowy darkness of Silver Street. As I arrive, the uncertainty of a hung parliament has left all our futures hanging in the air, a feeling that couldn't seem more detached from the brilliant blue sky over everyone's head on this beautiful day.

Reassuringly, therefore, it is a comfortable seat that awaits me right next door to the city's oldest sited bar, The River Inn. Established in 1684, the Shipquay Street inn was expanded into a new complex featuring this, a refurbishment of what was once the Palace Cinema (the screen's still there!) as a hub of sport, live entertainment and food, called after the original name for Shipquay Street: Silver Street.

The design of the premises treads a line between part contemporary, part classical and retro kitsch, depending on your point of view. Featuring a sloped entrance/exit, high ceiling, many a booth and wallpaper encrusted with local landmarks and lingo, it's all very familiar for residents and very fascinating for tourists.

Fascinating and familiar are words one could definitely apply to the food menu, an all rounder with enough pizzas, burgers, fish, meat and vegetarian dishes to satisfy even the most uncertain of palates. There is no uncertainty whatsoever about my starter, a rich smelling duo of potato skins with a thick and creamy looking dip. I can't wait to get stuck in.

The pulled pork at the heart of the mozzarella topped potato is rather tough,and gets stuck in my teeth at one point, but it is cooked well enough so that its barbeque-flavoured coating goes down gently, rather than overbears. The dip is more mayo than garlic and there's definitely enough of it to go with skins that, while certainly pleasing, would be a bit too dry otherwise. The whole of the dish is more than the sum of its parts, though – it's the kind of starter one should really enjoy taking their time over.

The baby caesar, my choice of side dish for the mains, is as good as any caesar salad I've tasted – the bits of bacon are tiny and plentiful, and the tasty dressing is thick enough to satisfy and thin enough to compliment, diluting neither the crispness of the lettuce nor the crunchy croutons.

But the chicken & ham pie, champ and garden peas are a real beast of a main course – so much so that I wonder if I've done the right thing eating a starter and a side beforehand. Underneath the very crumbly crust of the pie rests a sauce even richer than my earlier dip – white wine, mushroom, onion and thyme submerging cubs of ham and chunks of chicken. Both chicken and sauce are very hot, with the chicken slightly tougher than I'd like it to be. It dawns on me that I've happened upon another of those "big is beautiful" restaurants – I am informed later by waitress Kerri that their speciality burger is as high as the drinks menu! - so this is more a case of how much I can eat rather than how much I enjoy what I eat.

Luckily there's enough space for pudding, a "chocolate creme scotch egg" - in other words, a Cadbury's creme egg surrounded by a flaky sponge enclosure, ice cream and strawberry sauce. Hard though it is to cut through to the heart of it, there's enough of a good taste here for this particular chocoholic not to mind. And also to leave happy in the knowledge that, whatever's in store for us in the future, things won't be so bad so long as we have our Silver Streets to feed and entertain us.

Simon Fallaha

Silver Street Restaurant is part of the River Inn on Shipquay Street in L'Derry. Find them online - with menus's and opening times etc - at

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