Restaurant Profile September 2016: Cuffs Bar & Grill, Crumlin Road Gaol
Damien Blaney, head chef at Cuffs Bar & Grill, talks to HRNI
WHEN DID THE RESTAURANT OPEN?
Cuffs Bar & Grill opened to the public at the beginning of July, following a £350,000 investment from the award-winning Belfast Tourist Attraction & Conference Centre, Crumlin Road Gaol.
We wanted to expand the facilities and bring something a little different to the Gaol for the visiting tourists but also for the locals. North Belfast’s hospitality scene is quite limited so we knew a licensed restaurant would be a welcome addition to the industry.
TELL US ABOUT THE SPACE YOU HAVE
Cuffs Bar & Grill is in an incredibly unique setting, the Grade A building itself is a local landmark and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Belfast. The restaurant is located in the original Victorian kitchen of the Gaol, what was known as the Scullery, and has a capacity of 75 guests.
WHAT FEEL ARE YOU AIMING FOR?
Cuffs Bar & Grill has a very relaxing, intimate feel. The unique setting makes it perfect for business people, couples, families and private functions.
WHAT’S ON YOUR MENU AND WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?
Our lunch and dinner menus contain a number of dishes to suit every taste including chicken lamb, duck and beef. The inspiration behind our menu is keeping it local. All our ingredients are fresh and sourced locally; we have so much on our doorstep. We have a good relationship with small independent suppliers such as Ewings, Belfast’s oldest fishmonger, and local chicken producers, Rockvale.
DOES YOUR MENU CHANGE OFTEN?
As we rely heavily on fresh produce from local suppliers, our main menu will change seasonally. The current menu will run to mid- November before changing to our winter menu. This allows us to make the most out of the ingredients available to us each season as well as providing our customers with good quality, fresh food. At Cuffs, we also offer a daily specials menu to our customers; this menu reflects the best produce which is available to us locally.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO TO IMPROVE AND DRIVE YOUR MENU?
We provide ongoing training to our staff to ensure our menu is always produced to a high standard. We feel it is important to teach them about working with fresh ingredients and to show them it is about more than just opening a packet. We also listen to customer feedback and make alterations as required. As we serve local and international customers, we need to ensure that our menu suits all tastes, as well as providing an insight into the culture of Northern Ireland.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
We source our ingredients from the best suppliers and growers in Northern Ireland. We aim to keep it all as local as possible.
WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
Since we opened our doors at the beginning of July, we have welcomed a large number of locals as well as regional and international tourists who receive discount at Cuffs if they have been on a tour. We are confident the restaurant will continue to be a hit with locals in Belfast, as well as those further afield and of course for the expanding number of tourists in the area.
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR RESTAURANT STAND OUT FROM COMPETITORS?
Cuffs Bar & Grill uses locally sourced ingredients and we have created delicious menus to suit all tastes. We want to put a spin on Northern Ireland with our menus as we feel it’s important that guests from overseas get to sample some local and traditional Northern Ireland food. We have also created special events menus and packages to suit the popular ‘Live At The Crum’ concert nights. Customers can enjoy the surroundings at Belfast’s newest dining experience with a two-course meal followed by the evening’s live music event at a special rate.
53-55 Crumlin Road, Belfast
Tel: 028 9075 5822
Opening hours: Seven days a week