Two and a half years ago, the vibrant Howard Street restaurant exploded onto the Belfast foodie scene.
Howard Street quickly gained a well-earned reputation for an excellent menu with a focus on high-quality, locally sourced fresh food with a south east Asian twist running through the menu.
Owner and director of Howard Street Niall Davis, alongside talented chef and business partner Martin Murphy, have now officially opened their latest venture together – The Permit Room.
“Marty, my business partner and head chef, has a massive passion for food with a particular emphasis on South East Asian flavours. He has managed to fuse these flavours perfectly through our menu to suit the Belfast palate at Howard Street,” Niall explained to us.
“These flavours blended and served up alongside classic dishes using all fresh local produce coupled with a great drinks offering and a laid back atmosphere has proved to be a big hit.”
Indeed they have. Howard Street has received extremely positive feedback, with a 4.5 TripAdvisor rating and rave reviews in the local press.
In fact, the average review raves about customer service and exceptional food. Just last week AshbourneIan gave the restaurant a full star review on the site:
‘A very warm welcome greeted our arrival at this popular Belfast restaurant. Easy to find, within two minutes of City Hall. Service was very warm and efficient, the food was exceptional and well portioned. I would suggest this is perhaps the true No.1 in Belfast.’
Meanwhile, Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic Joris Minne previously enthused about its place in the Belfast restaurant scene:
“Belfast’s strong point as a destination is its mid-range bistro sector in which places like Howard Street Restaurant and Hadskis stand out… The city’s reputation as a foodie capital is based on quality but also on less expensive places.”
Nationally, Howard Street has also received honourable mention in the highly renowned New York Times travel section, whilst Marina O’laughlin has praised Howard Street in The Guardian.
Whilst the Observer Food monthly made sure it included Howard Street in the highly coveted list of Top 50 Restaurants in the UK.
The Permit Room
Following Howard Street’s amazing reception and continued success, The Permit Room was born in Belfast’s Fountain Street.
“For Martin and I the most important thing is bringing something fresh and different to the city and to try and compete to have the best offering in what we do,” Niall outlined.
“For a long while we wanted to open a good cafe in the city centre. In the city there are plenty of good restaurants and there are plenty of good bars and there are a few good places to get coffee – but I don’t think anywhere excels in all three!”
Belfast’s Newest Cafe
The Permit Room is a daytime offering, with delicious options for breakfast through to early evening meals.
The food takes inspiration from all around the world, featuring a taste of the success in Howard Street with a menu specially developed by Marty and delivered by The Permit Room’s head chef Matthew Keenan who cut his teeth in kitchens all around the world before a stint in Howard Street to prepare him for the new challenge.
“It features some Asian fusion that Belfast went absolutely wild for in Howard Street, served alongside some classics with a twist, and some inspiration from Australia and around the globe.
“We will have a great wine selection from local supplier Mark Jefferson and a big range of local craft beers, ales, ciders served alongside a small but unique cocktail list created by Howard Street’s talented Sean Smith.”
Root & Branch
“Most excitingly we have hooked up with Root & Branch coffee, artisan roasters based on the Ormeau Road who are starting to get a big name for themselves in terms of their coffee offering after only being open on the Ormeau Road for one month.
“We will definitely have one of the most unique (and in our opinion one of the best) coffee offerings in the city centre.”
Fresh, Local Produce
As with Howard Street, the same rules apply with produce in Permit Room – it’s all fresh in daily locally where ever possible.
“Everyone throws these phrases around but its how we have executed Howard Street and has been a big help to our success.”
“The Permit Room is a cool, lively space featuring mahogany wall panels, a beautiful mahogany floor, and nice brass fittings with an open pass.
“It has very subtle nods to Asia as we’ve always taken a lot of inspiration from it in different ways.”
Meanwhile, the guys have invested in a high quality sound system in order to ensure an enjoyable atmosphere:
“Music is so important to us! Good food, good music and good drinks are what The Permit Room is all about!
“We’ve also spent hundreds of hours trying to find the right staff with the right vision to help us pull everything together. We can’t wait to open our doors now. This is something new and unique for Belfast!”