While St. Anne’s Square boasts the spanking new build units, and Ballyhackamore sucks in the trendy, boho bistros, another new eaterie has erupted in Belfast city centre. With Deanes, Howard Street and Home within spitting distance it’s going to have to take something pretty special to get the casual punters across the door. 

We’re beckoned up the restaurant’s ramp, passing a very impressive paving stone wall that divides the restaurant in two, into a room that’s clearly had plenty of care and cold hard cash lavished on it - the look is a million miles away from shabby chic and odd Ikea homeware. There’s a well stocked bar and waiting area, leading on to several main dining chambers. 

Canapés are served, alongside champagne (courtesy of Mark Jefferson, who has also provided the bulk of the wine list) and after the speeches from the restaurant manager and the hyperactive Lord Mayor, we’re given a demonstration of hot rock cooking.

Put simply, the chefs seal the steak, maintaining the flavour before it is presented next to a superheated block of volcanic stone. The diner then uses it as their own personal hotplate, cooking the steak to their liking. There’s two advantages to this approach - for a start, the steak is always piping hot and secondly there’s no blaming the chef if it is overcooked!

Fish can also be served on the stone, and there’s a selection of pasta and salad dishes for the less adventurous. We’re also treated to some of the luxurious desserts, set custard and foam rhubarb being a particular highlight. 

This is clearly a haven for meat lovers and with the flair and drama of volcanic stone this is bound to be a hit with large parties, work dos and the like - it brings a theatre to food that is sometimes lacking. Rock on, Stix & Stones. 

Stix & Stones is open now and accepting bookings, go to the link below for more info.