We found this restaurant in Belfast while we were browsing the internet. It looked reasonable, prices seemed fine and the location was good, so we booked a table for our group of 5.
We dined there early (6.00pm) on a Monday evening. Reservations are definitely not required at this time or this day - we were the only people in the restaurant and had our pick of the tables. This was not a problem for us at all, we did not find a lack of atmosphere in the restaurant - actually it was calm, relaxed and chilled which suited us perfectly.
The location of 21 Social is great. It is close to the city centre, but actually right in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter. We walked from the centre and easily found the restaurant. The Cathedral Quarter is worth coming to anyway - lovely little cobbled alleyways, chic and trendy bars and cool restaurants. It was a summer evening during our visit, the atmosphere was buzzing even at that early hour. We would like to go back and explore this area a bit more next visit.
Inside 21 Social, the decor is modern and unpretentious. There are a couple of television screens - showing sports - normally I dislike this, but it didn't bother me at all here. There are lots of little nooks and crannies throughout the dining area, so even if it was busy I think it would still feel private. It was also very light and spacious.
The staff were excellent - our waiter was quiet but very friendly and efficient. He was attentive, without being overbearing and in my opinion got the service just right.
The menu was delicious. There was so much to choose from, the food seemed to be classic with a twist. All the food is locally sourced - there was a leaflet on the table explaining where everything came from - from the potatoes to the bread to the lamb to the fish, a nice touch.
Two members of our party chose steaks. These were beautifully presented, sizzling, succulent, juicy and perfectly cooked. A big thumbs up for them. Two of us chose a fish dish - seabass which came served with cockle popcorn, scallops and black pudding and potato bread chips. It looked great, tasted wonderful and we loved it. It was also very innovative and felt like the chef was having fun with the food, being creative and inspired. We were surprised to find, because we ordered 2 steaks we got a free bottle of wine. When 2 bottles of wine appeared at the table, we were told we got another free bottle because we ordered 2 fish dishes! Great value for money. We didn't want to drink the second bottle and they told us to take it away with us.
The children's menu was not extensive, but was very good and the quality of the food was excellent.
When the bill came, we were surprised at how reasonably priced this restaurant was. We loved the atmosphere, found the food different and delicious, adored the location in the funky Cathedral Quarter, highly recommend it and would love to come back.