Anyone who knows us at all will know that at PastieBap.com we just love to eat. Especially if that food is steak and especially at novelty restaurants. So it’s quite surprising that it took us so long to get around to trying out Stix & Stones on Upper Queens Street in Belfast. However, I wouldn’t exactly call Stix & Stones a novelty restauarnt, but cooking your own food on a hot stone is a pretty novel experience.
The decor is modern. It’s simple, without being boring – wooden walls, wooden floors, with lots of wide open spaces and interesting bits and pieces on the walls to look at. There’s not a lot of soft furnishings, but it works. As we’re in quite a large group we get seated at a lovely big round table right by the kitchen, so we can see the pass easily, which is a nice addition to the night.
In terms of drinks, the menu has tons of craft beers and ciders and interesting local fayre to have a look at. You can have a look at the menus available here. We ordered off the a la carte menu which you can see here. There’s quite a variety on the menu, with everything from steak and seafood to pork belly and salads. To start we tried the hot ‘n’ sticky chicken wings and the bruschetta bites. The bruschetta was delicious, little bite sized pieces covered in tomato, basil and capers – although the tomato had been sitting on the bruschetta for a little while and the juice had soaked through, making it soggy rather than crispy, but the flavours were definitely there. Next up, the chicken wings. Not exactly hot (in fact thy weren’t spicy at all) or sticky, come to think of it, but they were amazing. I’m not the biggest fan of traditional chicken wings, but I took a chance on these and it was so worth it. Not your usual buffalo wings, these were something completely different, the skin was crispy, the meat was succulent and they came with the most delicious creme fraiche style sauce that tasted oriental and was extremely more-ish. Words don’t really do it justice, you need to try these wings for yourself!
Let’s get down to business. The real reason we were there was to cook some food on some really hot stones, so most of our group ordered the daily special which was a sharing stone for two people. This was a great deal as you got a 4oz rib-eye, a 4oz sirloin, a tuna steak and king prawns, all served on a stone to share. The best of everything, and at just over £29 between two people this is a great price. We also got three sides – the onion and tomato salad, buttery mashed potato and the cajun fries. I swapped the salad for the kale and bacon croquettes which were exquisite and came with a roast onion puree. The cajun fries also deserve a special mention as they’re so delicious. More like little wedges than fries, these come with cheese, creme fraiche and pest drizzled over them.
They had run out of the bigger sharing stones by the time we got our main, so they split each of ours up onto two stones. This wasn’t really a problem and actually made it easier for everyone to have a go at cooking their own meal on their own stone. The rib-eye and sirloin were great cuts of meat, one served with wild mushrooms on top, and the other with a stone cooked tomato – a simple, but delicious accompaniment for each. I’m not the biggest fan of seafood either, but the tuna steak and the prawns were definitely the highlight of my meal. This is definitely the way to try out foods that you aren’t sure about as you can cook them exactly to your liking. The meal also came with four sauces – a whiskey peppered sauce, garlic and tarragon butter, bernaise or rich pan jus. Each was subtle enough not to overpower the meat, but tasty enough to make the meal more interesting. This is definitely a great experience, especially if you want to make the night a special occasion.
For dessert we tried the cheese board, the cider poached pears, which tasted great, although they were served cold, which wasn’t expected, and the dark chocolate mousse which tasted delightful. The mousse was served with a cherry sorbet which offset the sweetness of the chocolate perfectly.
All in all this was a great meal. We went for a special occasion and I’d definitely recommend Stix & Stones as the place to go if you want to make a big deal about a night out and do something different. Not only is it a fun experience cooking your own food, but the food being served is superb and looks great. The staff were not only attentive, but went out of their way to make sure that everything was going well. Our server even spotted that we were celebrating a birthday and rushed over to offer to take a photo of us all and then presented the birthday boy with a special birthday plate.