Taking My Hair Out: A Review

Go on, ask me what I did at the weekend.

Okay, I’ll give you a hint, it didn’t involve wiping someone else’s bottom or pacifying a hysterical toddler after I cut his sandwiches into the wrong shape, which, as any mum worth her salt knows, is a true crime against humanity.

What it did involve was me and my husband going out, spending time together and actually eating a hot meal without having to get up seven times for ketchup, a glass of water, a clean fork, more water…

Yes, that’s right, we managed a date night!

Having made the effort through the week to have my nails and hair done, a rarity for me since becoming mum, I was absolutely determined that I would get the good out of it, so to speak.

So, where did we decide to take my new hair-do?

I wanted somewhere fancy enough that I could make a bit of an effort and it would feel like a special occasion, but not so stuffy that I wouldn’t be able to relax after a fairly gruelling week.

Our venue of choice was Zen, located at Adelaide Street in Belfast city centre, and I have to say it didn’t disappoint.

It was after a visit here more than a decade ago that my husband first told me he loved me, so it brings back memories of a time when I was married to my job and my biggest worry was whether our relationship was going to go the distance.

Anyway, as it was late in the week when we booked, we were only able to get a table at 9pm, which actually suited better as I was able to get the babies to bed and still have enough time to shower and actually put on some make-up.

By the time we arrived, the restaurant was in full-on Saturday night mode – it was loud, it was busy, it was just what the doctor ordered.

I love the décor at Zen – it was ahead of its time when I first went there as a naïve young journalist longer ago than I care to remember, and it’s still spot on now.

Downstairs isn’t as remarkable as upstairs, but it definitely feels authentic with its dark mahogany wood, and it’s somewhere you can unwind and catch up without feeling like everyone else can hear your conversation.

We waited at the bar for our table to become ready and while my chauffeur for the night (the husband) went with the soft option, I threw caution to the wind and ordered a prosecco martini.

It was fabulously refreshing and probably a little too easy to drink for someone who normally doesn’t entertain alcohol.

It was also the perfect accompaniment to my meal.

The menu at Zen is comprehensive to say the least, and it would take countless visits to work your way through every dish.

As you would expect fish features heavily – salmon, crab stick, crab roe, eel, octopus, monkfish tail and mackerel all make an appearance in various forms.

And while the restaurant is celebrated for its sushi dishes, I’ve just never been brave enough to give them a go.

So, on this occasion I went for the Aigamo Maki, Zen’s take on the roasted duck pancakes you get at the Chinese, followed by the Sizzling Rib Eye Steak Rolls with Asparagus in Black Pepper Sauce.

Mr S ordered the Kimchi Chicken Skewers for his starter, a dish of chicken soaked in a tangy spiced marinade and served with a homemade satay sauce.

For his main course he had the Sizzling Chicken Tobanyaki with Mushroom, Red Bell Pepper and Asparagus.

Our meals were proof that those in the kitchen know what they’re doing.

Meanwhile, the staff front of house were welcoming, efficient and attentive without being too in your face.

There is nothing about Zen that feels like this is a restaurant in Belfast playing at serving up Asian food, but then I suppose there has to be a reason why it remains so popular.

As it turns out, it was just the right choice for us on a very rare Saturday night out together.

You know, there’s always the risk that when you go out for a meal with your other half minus the kids, you’ll discover you actually have nothing in common.

Fortunately for us, not only was the food fantastic, but we also realised that we do still quite like one another.

And so, we’re planning to do it all again quite soon.

Well, before the end of 2019 anyway.

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