07 Dec Café Parisien Belfast | Review
On a chilly, November afternoon in the city, we decided to be a bit decadent and try out Belfast’s new purveyor of French cuisine – Café Parisien. I’ve walked past many times since it opened its doors back in October, and been intrigued by the very classic, elegant décor I could spy through the window. Drawing inspiration from the Café Parisien restaurant on-board the Titanic, this creperie/restaurant has a subtle, historical link with the city I wasn’t aware of until we sat down and had a read of the menu.
The building itself is one of Belfast’s old Victorian buildings dating back to 1888, when it was the fancy Robinson & Cleaver department store. As I learnt on Belfast’s street art walking tour, many of the old, beautiful buildings of Belfast are languishing through being abandoned and/or are pending demolition very soon. So, it’s great to see that this historic building has been saved from such a fate.
Café Parisien’s lower level is a creperie intended for casual dining – hot beverages, crepes, snacks etc. Then, up a rather opulent staircase is a full restaurant. As we were there for lunch rather than a light snack we opted for the upstairs restaurant. From here you have some fabulous views of the iconic City Hall across the street. The Christmas lights had just been turned on the night before, so City Hall was adorned with fairy lights and brimming with Christmas cheer from the continental market.
In addition to the restaurant, there’s also a balcony which I can imagine would be a dreamy spot for a couple of glasses of prosecco on one of those rare sunny, summer afternoons. Prob be a special kind of hell sitting out there on a November afternoon though so needless to say no one was brave enough. Not even for the undoubtedly sweet Instagram shots such a view of the city would afford.
So, what do you order in a French restaurant? A croque monsieur, duh.
Now, I’ve had a few croque monsieurs in my day, even a croque madame too (FYI that’s a croque monsieur with a fried egg on top) and I’ve never really been fussed about them. I’ve found them to be a bit much. Some people love dishes loaded with cheese but tbh I find it to be a bit too intense flavour-wise. For me, there is such a thing as too much cheese and croque monsieurs represent that. So, it was with trepidation that I made my order. I was taking a gamble but I’m so glad I did because my croque monsieur was truly délicieux. Any time I’ve had a croque monsieur it has been filled with sliced ham which I’m not such a big fan of, but this croque monsieur was filled with roasted ham, sort of like the type you’d have in a Christmas dinner. It was so tender, and paired with the sourdough bread which was toasted to perfection and the cheese and the béchamel sauce – this was a truly melt in you mouth dish. It was also the ideal amount of food for lunch, I felt full but not uncomfortably full. I’m the sort of person who will keep eating until I have a clean plate so this was a nice change.
Scott ordered crab risotto which I had been eyeing up on the menu too because I LOVE risotto. He didn’t finish his though, so naturally I had to start picking at his leftovers like the vulture I am and I can confirm that the morsels I had were also delish (I think my croque monsieur pushed it though).
We had a delightful, chilled out lunch in Café Parisien. Staff were attentive and helpful. It felt like a fancy lunch spot but it wasn’t the high level, off-putting kind of fancy – there was a very relaxing atmosphere. I’ve also been thinking about my croque monsieur experience a frankly unsettling amount, I think I’ll have to return soon to have the same order again!