The Boat House enjoys a unique location. It is situated beside Bangor marina, in the historic 19th century former harbour master’s office. It is owned by Ken Sharp, who also owns the Salty Dog hotel just across the road.
We were invited along to try the tasting menu, created by head chef, Tim Brunton and were delighted to join the select group of guests who were equally keen to discover what was in store. After some mingling on arrival we took to our seats and were greeted by Ken who explained how the team are aiming to combine theatre with great food to create an evening of fine dining, fine wines and entertainment. Well, I for one love theatre and love food so this was right up my street.
To my delight, the Boathouse prides itself on supporting local suppliers. Locally grown produce is sourced from County Down walled gardens and local wine suppliers include JN Wine in Crossgar, Neill Wine in Groomsport and Robb Brothers Wine Merchants in Portadown.
To begin, homemade sourdough bread was carved at our table and served with Abernethy butter and Broighter Gold rapeseed oil. This was followed by parmesan custard served with black poppy seed puffed pastry. I loved the presentation of this as the custard was served in eggshells and looked stunning. This was a really fun element of the meal and I am now keen to use my hens’ eggs in a similar way.
Next up was a tasting of local brassicas. Now forgive my ignorance but I had no idea what a brassica was and had to sneak a little peek at Google to check. (It seems that they are members of the mustard group of vegetables and include broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts and many others.) Our dish included cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi and black radish served with a Fivemiletown goat’s cheese cream, basil emulsion and toasted mustard seed snow. This was paired with a Donaghadee Riesling 2015 from Mosel in Germany. I am not usually a fan of Riesling but this was a fabulous wine and was perfectly paired with the dish.
Our fish course was home- smoked Atlantic salmon (apparently the caretaker looks after all the smoking as he is the only one with the patience for the job!) This was served with a fine herb bavoirois, verjus emulsion and black olive oil. This was paired with a lovely Spanish wine, the Manzanilla Deliciosa En Rama 2015.
A bit of theatrical presentation was next with Skeaghanore duck breast being revealed in a dry ice mist. I tried to capture this on video but was gutted when the camera flashed and I realized I had taken a photo by mistake! The duck breast was served with confit leg rolled in potato spaghetti, Iona farm carrots, fondant potato and Armagnac & golden raisin jus. The partnering wine was a delicious El Bon Homme 2014 from Valencia.
A lovely palette cleanser of Shortcross Gin granita cleared the way for our Neary Nogs’ bean plate, a beautifully presented Madagascan Corillo bean served with iced raspberries and gold. The wine pairing for this was a rather lovely Finca Antigua Moscatel 2012 from La Mancha in Spain.
Our evening was quite an experience. A warm welcome, excellent service, the best of local ingredients, top quality dishes served with panache in a unique venue. That’s quite an offering in my book!