Anyone who knows me, knows I love food and so I was delighted on Wednesday night to be invited to sample a taster menu in The Boat House, Bangor, to mark the venue’s relaunch as well as to celebrate the success of Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016.
This unique restaurant, which was formerly used to store lifeboats, hence the name, is located in a stunning building, which dates back to 1849, located beside the picturesque Bangor Marina. The building has had many incarnations, such as home to The Harbour Master, Billy Caufield’s Boats and The RNLI, before becoming The Boat House restaurant. Formerly under the management of the Castel brothers, the establishment was re-opened in November by experienced hotelier and restaurateur, Ken Sharp. Ken, who also owns The Salty Dog, a hotel and bistro a mere stone’s throw from The Boat House, clearly knows his stuff and so I was excited to see what the evening and the venue had to offer.
When I arrived, I was directed to the restaurant downstairs, which was already bustling with people enjoying a catch up along with a glass of Simonise Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rose. Guests at the event, which was organised by Serious PR, included Lynne Crowther from Eating Ideas, Jeff Meredith from Belfast Times and Wendi Kane from Belfast City Council to name just a few.
As we were invited to take our seats, I was excited to see what tasty treats were on the menu, which was created by head chef Tim Brunton. First up was homemade sour dough bread, which was served with Abernathy hand rolled butter and Broighter Gold Rapeseed oil. This certainly whet my appetite and I was tickled to discover I was seated with the lovely Will and Allison from Abernathy Butter, as well as Michele Shirlow from Food NI.
The next dish sent to tantalise the tastebuds was the fun, unique and super creative parmesan custard, which was served inside an egg shell. Served with a poppyseed breadstick, the flavours of this dish worked wonderfully together.
With my senses well and truly engaged, I couldn’t wait to try the next course, which was a tasting of local brassicas accompanied with a glass of Donaghadee Riesling. If, like me, you aren’t familiar with brassicas, they are a genus of plants in the mustard family, which are highly regarded for their nutritional value. Our brassicas, which included cauliflower and broccoli, were served with Fivemiletown goats cheese cream, basil emulsion and toasted mustard seed snow. This dish was an explosion of colour and I am pleased to say it tasted just as good as it looked.
Dish four was home-smoked Atlantic salmon, which was served with fine herb bavarois, verjus emulsion and black garlic oil, paired with a glass of Manzanilla Delicious En Rama, Saca de Primevera. I am only really beginning to appreciate seafood, and after this dish I am so glad I have finally got on board. The presentation was delightful and the flavours were perfectly balanced and ever so appealing.
I love duck and so I was thrilled to see that the next course was Skeaghanore duck breast with confit leg rolled in potato spaghetti, Iona Farm carrots, fondant potato and Armagnac and golden raisin jus. I was already excited to try this dish but when it was arrived, I could not have been more impressed with the presentation. Employing total culinary theatrics, the plate was covered in a mist filled glass dome, which created the perfect reveal when it was lifted by the waiting staff at the table. The dish was simply delicious and also perfectly complemented by a glass of mouth watering El Bon Homme.
It was time for a palate cleanser, which was in the shape of an amazing Perfect Pour Cask Aged Shortcross granita. This semi-frozen dessert was light, refreshing and the gin gave it a kick without being over powering.
The final course on the taster menu was Neary Nogs’ bean to plate with Madagascan Corolla bean, freshly prepared in Co Down, served with iced raspberries, gold, and a glass of Finca Antigua Muscatel. I have a sweet tooth and this dessert was pure heaven to me. The pops of red and gold on the plate made it look stunning, the taste really delighted me, the piece de resistance for me was a chocolate dome that, when cracked, oozed with a gorgeous chocolate sauce. This was definitely the perfect end to a beautiful meal.
My first experience at The Boat House definitely made an impression. Ken Sharp is clearly passionate about the food and drink industry and with a menu bursting with local produce, he is an incredible ambassador for what our wee country can offer. The full flavour food creations are also creative, unique and will leave you wanting to go back for more. The team at The Boat House also excel at pairing premium wines, which are available from local suppliers, with each dish so that all your senses are in for a treat. Good food and drink, in my opinion, require good service to make the experience complete, and the waiting staff, under the guidance of the fabulously professional Jonathan Quinn, are highly trained and very skilled at ensuring diners fully enjoy their experience in this this intimate and gourmet venue.
For more information on The Boat House, visit: http://boathousebangor.com