“ FISH / SEAFOOD. Bradbury Place. Tel: +44 (0)1232 311827. „
I have just visited Bishops Restaurant this week (on advice from a friend) and was strangely suprised at how tasty it is! The service was exceptional compared to some "top" restaurants in Belfast city, not what I was expecting at all. It has a local charm and the food was some of the nicest traditional food I have tasted in some time.The fish was moist and fresh and the chips were crispy and cooked to perfection. After reading the other reviews I wasn't sure I was in the same place until I realised they were written nearly 10 years ago! This place has picked itself up and has definately placed itself in one of my favorite restaurants to visit when in Belfast.
Being ‘on the road’ as a Consultant is only a little different to being on the road as a salesman, a service engineer, a shopfitter .... or even a tramp - it is just some variation on the quality of your over-night accommodation, what you eat, and where you eat that differs .... Thus, when my client is paying - well, I don’t exactly ‘dine at the Ritz’, but I do tend to spend what I think is ‘reasonable’ for my fee rate. But when the meal is paid for out of my own pocket, it is a different matter. So, when do I pay for meals out of my own pocket when I’m on the road? For example, when I stop on at the end of a visit, or where I am visiting two clients from one hotel base. Thus if I finish at one client at 5 pm one day, and spend the night at a hotel before visiting the second client on the next day, well I might charge the second client for the bed & Breakfast, but I will not charge either client for my evening ‘trough’. I am thus left with a choice, of expenditure. Either go to a restaurant where I spend about £12 or more, get a proper receipt that can (legitimately) be claimed as a business expense (food only, so that I get it at, say about 40% discount compared with what I would pay out of my own pocket, or do I behave a bit like a tramp, and go t' nearest ‘chip-oil’ and spend about £3 ? Well I am not ashamed to admit that I go t’ chip-oil, and make a note of it in my diary. I do not claim for it as a business expense (generally, since NO receipt), but always work on the basis that if the Taxman does ever want to look into my affairs (Hmmmm, Duckie !) , then I can point to a number of occasions when I could have claimed expenses but didn’t, so that he might be willing to accept 'amnesia' for leaving out some other piddling little detail as regards income or expenditure ........ That is how, on Wednesday 2nd May, I arrived at Bishops Restaurant & Carry out at Bradbury Place in Belfast. This is on Belfast’s so-called ‘Golden Mile’, on the way down between the Europa Hotel and Queens University and just past Shaftsbury Square 9where I had occasion to visit an Internet cafe ... Now what had attracted me to Bishops was the firm recommendations given by fellow DooYooers that I read a month or two previous. Since I was on a 1 week Consultancy divided between 2 clients (and thus my business account was soon to look very healthy), I decided to ‘splash out’ and actually 'eat inside' rather than ‘from the Sun/Daily Mirror’, as I often do. The choice of food in Bishops is tremendous –Bishops is not only a chip shop, but sells burgers, sandwiches, pasties, lasagne, quiche and even vegetarian 'bakes' are available! The premises are spacious, and has character, with marble fireplaces, seating arranged in booths and a terrific terrazzo marble floor. However, the serving counter and the style of advertising behind the counter is definitely inspired by the great Fast Food designer McDonalds ! The opening hours are brilliant, opening until at least 1 am (but waitress service until 11pm ‘only’). And you can get breakfast, but obviously only for late risers - from 8 am (no good for me I am at the clients' by then). I selected a Haddock meal deal at £5.75. This included the fish (‘fresh from the market’), chips, mushy peas, bread & butter (2 rounds of sliced brown bread), and a drink (Coca-cola in my case). This was served quickly at the table by an attractive, efficient and friendly local lass (or should I say ‘colleen’ ?). The food was, well - a mite disappointing. I have already indicated that I have travelled widely in the UK and during the previous month, I had eaten Fish & Chips carry-outs from 3 other ‘chip-oils ’, in Glossop, Hathersage and Gretna. The best was from a Chinese Chip shop in Glossop (excellent – as all Chip shops run by the Chinese seem to be – do they put Monosodium Glutamate in the batter ?). But unfortunately, I would rate the product from Bishops as well below those other three. The size of the portion of fish was very disappointing. As a 'Quality Adviser', I always carry a tape measure with me (!). The battered fish measured 16 centimetres by 10 centimetres by 4 centimetres. I reckoned that it was about 2/3 the size that i would normally expect for the money. The batter was ‘crisp’ but the chips were ‘soggy’. The most worrying factor was the fat in which they had been fried. It seemed to solidify on the tongue .... leaving a cloying ‘blandness’. It certainly was a ‘new organoleptic experience’, but not one which I would care to repeat. The mushy peas were cold and the bread was, well, machine-sliced brown bread, so nothing to get excited about. The Cola was served in a cardboard cup (but not filled with ice). The waitress was pleasant and was given a good tip (after all it wasn’t her fault that the manager wasn’t available to complain to). I have written to Bishops to express my severe disappointment (enclosing a copy of the DooYoo opinions that attracted me). After all, it has won awards for its fish & chips (not only in 1999 but also in 2001, according to 'The Irish News'), but what I ate on 2nd May certainly shouldn’t win ANY prizes.
When I joined Dooyoo, this was the first op that I wrote about how I'd viewed Bishops in previous years... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Bishops on Shaftesbury square is really good at any time of the day, from breakfast, to that "I've been out in Belfast tonight, its late, I'm starving - and I don't like the look of that dodgy chip van on the Malone Road" occassion... though I must say, it's not as good as it used to be. Recently it has been renovated, and their prices have increased somewhat. Considering that they are in the "student" area of Belfast, many feel that their prices are too high. Saying that, the burgers are always gorgeous... and their selection of fish is great, for a chippy. It's a lovely place, and the staff are always very friendly. Kids are very welcome in Bishops, which makes is a very "family" orientated place. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That was a few months ago, since then I have visited Bishops and have not been at all happy with their food or their service. For starters, the staff - once upon a time you could have walked in there, the tables would be nice and clean to be greeted by a happy smiling face - particularly from one lovely lady. Now, it's a lot different, 3 times (out of three) we have had to request that our table be wiped clean before we eat there, flick a few chips off the seat before you sit down, and have a pouting 17 year old mutter "what would you like?" as she gives my boyfriend the eye. Needless to say, I was non too amused... Then we looked at the menu. Now, while we were first year students we might as well have lived in Bishops - so we pretty much knew the price of everything in the place. Imagine our disgust to find that the prices had increased massively, all on lovely new printed menu cards. (Most likely what the extra money was paying for) Still, I thought, "If the food 's as good as I remember..." and ordered a burger and chips (call me exotic if you like). Back in the old days (oh I'm making myself sound old now), you would have got a really decent sized burger - bigger than a Burger King Whopper, one that peeked out of the edge of the burger bun. When I got it recently, I almost had to get a magnifying glass out to find the burger! (well when compared to the old style). The chips used to be lovely, golden mmm... making my mouth water just thinking about them... now they are pale, look under cooked and have black bits in them. This resulted in me leaving half of my meal on the plate, and silently contemplating nipping next door to McDonalds. When I think back to when you used to have to queue to get a seat and to pay your bill, and the quality of food that used to be served, I'm very disapointed. I am giving this 3 stars, and that's only because of what it was, and acknowledging that it has potential, somewhere along the line the customer has been forgotten, and that could be the downfall of any customer orientated business. I would not recommend it as a first option if you are in the area. If you are, head on around the corner to Botanic Avenue, where you will find many places that serve different meals according to your taste, or nip up the road to Villa Italia, where you still have to queue to get in, and the food is absolutely superb.
If you are after fish and chips go to Bishops on Shatesbury Avenue. It is a traditional Fish and Chip Restaurant, which is very informal and relaxed with newpapers and a roaring fire. The food is well priced, fresh and most importantly tastes ggooooooddd. I would especially recommend the mushroom sauce. I go to Belfast maybe twice a year and always make sure I squeeze in a visit to Bishops - they are the best fish and chip shop I have ever been into!