Restaurant profile

Restaurant Profile February 2020: Orã Tapas & Wine Bar, Belfast

Marty Murphy, chef patron, talks to Alyson Magee

WHEN DID YOUR RESTAURANT OPEN?
We opened the doors in June 2019. The inspiration came from travelling for about 10 years around the world, and I took a little piece of each place I was in and always maintained the intention of opening a restaurant in my home city, Belfast. Howard St was the first restaurant I opened, and I was using those ideas there in the beginning, but then Howard St took on its own life and it was always on my backburner to open another venue where I could do small plate dishes.

TELL US ABOUT THE SPACE YOU HAVE
I always had my eye on this unit; the back door of my kitchen in Howard St is pretty much facing the back door of the kitchen in Orã. It seats 46 people quite comfortably. It’s split level with a bar at the front you can sit around, and then out the back is for slightly bigger parties.

WHAT FEEL ARE YOU AIMING FOR?
I wanted to do a sort of speakeasy. People have asked if I’m going to put more signage out the front and I’m not to be honest. I wanted that discrete look; coming off Great Victoria St, not really knowing what to expect. It’s a very small frontage and then, when you walk in, it’s got this New York loft-style cool vibe about it, good music on and a real warmth to it. That’s what I really wanted to capture with this space.

WHAT’S ON YOUR MENU?
The menu has a map on the back with all the different places I’ve lived around the world, so you could be eating a Shawarma from the Middle Eastern region or you could be eating a curry I picked up from my travels in South Africa. I’m classically trained so there’s some traditional dishes on there as well. It’s tapas but it’s not Spanish-style tapas where you go in and it follows a certain format.

DOES YOUR MENU CHANGE OFTEN?
We’ve just introduced a new menu for 2020 but, to be honest, I’ll just change a menu when I’ve gathered enough ideas from dishes I’ve been working on. We do work a lot with seasonality, everything’s fresh in the restaurant and that has a lot of influence on it as well.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO TO IMPROVE AND DRIVE YOUR MENU?
There is a massive Asian influence on my food, and I spend hours in the Asian supermarkets, picking up various ingredients to marinate meats in a different way. We cook on an open-fire robata grill in Orã, so there’s a real barbecue flavour from the meats and fish.

WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
I have worked with a lot of local suppliers for many years now at Howard St and have a good rapport with them. I think the produce we have here is some of the best in the world. There’s a guy who grows our veg organically in Dromore and Dromara, and we also take some stuff from in and around Helen’s Bay that is completely seasonal.

WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
It’s a slightly different vibe to Howard St, which would be more of a big lively brasserie-style place. Orã is more intimate, and the people who come here tend to be into their wine, well travelled and hopefully appreciate the style of food.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR RESTAURANT DEVELOPING THIS YEAR?
Coming into 2020, my sole focus is going to be Orã. I want to really push the wine offering we have here in terms of the level of service. We extract with Coravin and I want to introduce a trolley that goes to your table if you order a certain glass of wine. We’ve just done a new menu, and we’re going to work really hard on putting Orã really firmly on the map.

12 Great Victoria Street, Belfast
T: 02890 315 565
W: orabelfast.com/
Facebook & Instagram:
/Oratapasbelfast/

OPENING HOURS
Wed-Fri: 5-10pm
Sat: 3-10:30pm
Sun: 3-8pm

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