Hello I’m Grainne McGarvey and welcome to my column which spots local hidden gems from the world of beauty, health, fashion, tourism and hospitality. I will have my ear to the ground (quite literally) to keep you up to date about the new or interesting products and services from our neck of the woods. If you know one – get in touch on twitter @grainnemcgarvey or at www.pulseprni.com
G Spots! A Boathouse in Bangor
Ahoy matey! I’m practising some nautical lingo in preparation for my upcoming Mediterranean cruise and in a bid to get my sea legs, I decided to pay a visit to another boat, but this time a little smaller and closer to home.
Bangor is one of my favourite places, especially if the weather is good. I’ve spend many a Sunday afternoon walking along the coast road from Crawfordsburn Park, which usually takes about 3 hours all in as we stop for the obligatory coffee and bun, which I guess ruins all our hard work.
A trip to Bangor is not complete without a visit to the marina to see the boats that most of us can’t afford and now I have discovered a little hidden gem just a stone’s throw away that has beautiful food to look at and is a lot easier on the wallet.
The Boat House is owned by Dutchman Joery Castel and his brother Jasper and the reviews are consistently so good that it surely merits a Michelin star. Cited as one of the top three restaurants in the north, if you are a foodie then you need to have this on your culinary bucket list. Small and perfectly formed, this cute as a button venue regularly welcomes celebrities, North Down lovies and foodies from across Ireland to its tables below deck.
I’m the first to admit that I love food, but I can be very hit or miss when it comes to the type of food I like. Maybe growing up with an Irish mammy that insisted meat and spuds were the menu du jour has somewhat limited my scope.
I’m not sure if it was the sea air, or the fact that getting the train makes me feel I’m on my holidays, but I went a bit mad for me and pretty much tried everything on the 7-course tasting menu. When I say 7 courses, don’t be fooled that one of the courses is a sweetie or a piece of fancy lettuce, no, this has everything from eel, duck, chicken all combined with edible flowers grown in Joery’s allotment.
I was lucky to have him as a guide to translate the pretty dishes, which looked more like works of art that belonged in a gallery than something to be eaten off a plate. The menu changes based on seasonal availability, which I guess can make a visit exciting and unpredictable. I really enjoyed the Smoked Lough Neagh eel, with apple foam, potato bread, and other delights as well as the Glazed carrots, Crozier Blue, Crozier Blue crème, hemp seed & carrot crisp, and white chocolate. Sounds good enough to make you want to lick the screen?
When I was waiting I was able to try Jorey’s new recipe for Hemp Focaccia bread– such a great alternative to the standard white bread rolls! He uses Harnett’s Hemp Oil which regular G spots! readers will know that I use in my kitchen and I managed to wangle the recipe so I can try to make it at home.
Don’t be fooled that you need to whisper and be on your best behaviour – there was a good buzz and the staff are friendly, welcoming and make you feel like you are one of the family. I know I should try and think of something negative for balance purposes, but it’s hard to think of anything – even the wine that was matched to the courses was perfect.
The summer is drawing to a close and if you are looking for one last adventure before the kids go back to school then I would keep Bangor on your radar. The Open House Festival (@Openhousefest) is on until the end of August, so there is a good buzz and now you have the perfect spot to eat, drink and be merry. But remember not to ‘go overboard’ by putting too many ‘down the hatch’ in case you end up as a ‘castaway’ or even worse ‘walking the plank’ when you get home!
1 Seacliff Road, Bangor
Tel: 028 9146 9253