REVIEW: freight.

Just off the Upper Newtownards Road Belfast, right at the heart of the C.S. Lewis Square is frait, a restaurant transformed from industrial containers, it is the doorway to a fresh new world of great food in the East of the City.

On walking through the door, we entered a futuristic, minimalist environment. I knew the vibe was being set at a high level for the evening. The pulse beat out in time with the background music, the atmosphere built as the restaurant filled up to capacity within minutes. There was a wave of expectancy I haven't experienced in any other restaurant.

We took our seats awaiting our culinary transportation and examined the manifest at hand, which was our menu. Simple in design yet complex in delivery, Gerard our Chef for the evening had plot the courses for the evening in an efficient yet exciting menu.

With Eden, my daughter, as co-pilot we plotted our route through the menu. Our starters were Crispy Pork Dumplings; hot and sour plum relish and Black Vinegar and Portavogie Prawns; Gochujang Butter, Scallions and Toast.

Christopher, our host, explained that Gerard makes the sausage meat mixture and hangs it to air dry. Then just as the air-curing process kicks in he removes the outer layer and extracts the fat moistened pork and seals it in the best water crust pastry on the map. The richness and depth of flavour packed into these dumplings was exceptional. The hot and sour plum relish cut through the perfect pork pockets with the zip zing and sting of perfect plump plum precision. The acidity brought by the plums and black vinegar completely complemented the fattiness of the dumplings.

I embarked on a starter of prawns and toast. Thank the Great Chef in the sky that they avoided the temptation to fill the bowl with oversized prawns overcooked into bullets. Small petite and bursting with sweet salty magic this prawn dish was light years away from any eighties throw back seafood starter.

The Gochujang butter was new on me. Again Christopher explained that they ferment the radishes themselves in the production of this spiced butter sauce. It reminded me greatly of Kimchi, the Asian fermented cabbage condiment. Only this was subtle and brought out the best in the sweet little prawns.

Toast! Is there anything better than mopping the plate with a great round of in-house baked, well toasted, bread. Is this just a Belfast thing? Wonderful!
For mains I went with the Fish of the Day, guided to this decision by Christopher.

Trout with chanterelle and morel mushrooms, beets and for that surf and turf feel a portion of slow braised beef.
The plate was decorated with purees and ketchups that brightened the dish visually and in flavour. Confession time: I wouldn't normally go for trout but Christopher asked me to trust him and I'm glad I did. C.S. Lewis himself couldn't pen a description worthy of this dish.

Cooked right on the point of done, the beautiful flesh of the trout was apricot in colour yet the skin was blacked to a seasoned crisp. I love chanterelle and morel mushrooms, I mean I could eat them with every main course, but to be honest I couldn't get past the cooking of the trout.

Magical bewitchment even the White Witch would've been astounded at.
My daughter chose the Braised Short rib; Roscoff onions, Cauliflower puree, Pont Neuf and Stout. Pont Neuf are thick stout chips crisp on the outside and hot and fluffy within. I would love to tell you how they tasted but Eden refused to share.

I think this was because I ate most of her Roscoff onions which, really guys should be classified as a class A substance. I could've ordered a pot full of these and still went back for more. But the stand out attraction on the plate was the slow braised short rib. Everything beef should be but produced at a level I have rarely come across in Belfast. You really aren't playing Gerard are you.

Finally just before we disembarked and headed back to the house, dessert. Simple.
Simple in choice but not simple in production. Roast Pineapple in Venezuelan Rum Toffee sauce, raisins and White Chocolate. Baked Chocolate and Hazelnut Tart, Blackberries and Crème Fraiche. Or the third choice was a selection of Irish Cheese, Chutney and Biscuits.
Eden had the Chocolate and Hazelnut tart, a bit sweet for me, but then I'm not a self-confessed chocolate addict like my daughter.

I watched as her eyes glazed over and each spoonful took her further away only returning to the realisation that all was done. I have it on good authority it's the one for the chocolate lover.
Pineapple roasted and rested in it's own juices, smothered in a Caribbean warm Venezuelan rum and toffee sauce. This is a seriously adult desert.

The tartness of the pineapple mellows with roasting, caramelising in itself bringing a sweet counter-balance to the warm rum, yeah, it was exceptional. What could be better? White chocolate snow. Yep, you read right, white chocolate snow. A secret, so Brendan told me.

This grated, frozen, or treated with liquid nitrogen, Aslan only knows but it set the desert off to another level. Melting on the palate leaving the haze of white chocolate.
frait is bunged every service and I now know why. The team are serious about the standard they have set. Each member of the crew is passionate about what they are producing over at C.S. Lewis Square.
Get yourself a table, you can thank me later.

Paul McMath

At the time of this review, they asked us to style it as frait., but it appears that they are now freight. Either way, they can be found on Belfast’s Newtownards Road (look for the containers, you’ll find them). Keep up to date online @freightbelfast@fraitbelfast on Facebook.

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