I have been a regular visitor to the Parson’s Nose in the past and have never been disappointed. I was intrigued by the reopening and jumped at the chance to visit. I have to say, I could swear I had walked into a completely different restaurant. Gone is the dark bar area and in its place is a bright, airy and open space with plenty of space for both drinkers and diners. In addition to the new interior design, the restaurant now has a substantial new extension. This is spacious with plenty of glass, opening out onto the new beer garden. The best bit is that the extension and garden both overlook the Hillsborough Castle Lake, which was previously hidden from sight.
When we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by the owners, Ronan and Jenny Sweeney, who also own Balloo House in Killinchy and The Poachers Pocket in Lisbane, both personal favourites of mine. Ronan talked us through the renovations and offered us a tour. During the tour we were taken into the kitchen to see the new wood fired oven in action. It’s not a massive kitchen but chef, Danny Millar and his team were very welcoming and managed to word around us sticking our cameras as close to the new oven as we dared (anything for a good picture).
In my head, I has assumed that wood fired ovens were really just for cooking pizzas so I was pretty gobsmacked that most of the menu revolved around the wood fire. Even the salads feature wood roasted vegetables. They really have developed a very innovative menu to show case this cooking style!
After the heat of the oven and with my face on fire from sticking head too close, I was delighted to be handed a cool and refreshing Shortcross Gin and tonic as I took my place at the table and perused our set menu for the evening.
First up on our menu was wood fired Portavogie prawns with Corndale chorizo, red peppers, orange gremolata and sourdough bread. While this was beautifully presented, I am not a fan of prawns (that’s putting it mildly) so I opted for the alternative starter of the Parson’s super salad, packed full of wood fired cauliflower, pickled carrot, capers, raisins, quinoa and spiced yoghurt dressing. I know as a food blogger I should bravely confront everything that is set in front of me but this salad was so up my street that I couldn’t look past it and loved it! Our paired wine was the Verdicchio, Sartarelli, Castelli di Jesi, Italy 2015
Next up was a selection of artisan sour dough pizzas. I have eaten many many pizzas in my day but these really were something else, fresh, light and delicious. All washed down with a rather lovely Montepulicano d’Abruzzo, Umani Ronchi, Italy 2015. If I’m honest, I was quite full by this stage but manfully carried on to the highlight of the menu, wood roasted Glenarm short horn cote du beouf. This was a treat, tender and full of flavour. It came served with asparagus & bearnaise sauce and chips. All with a glass of Malbec Reserve, Finca Sophia, Argentina 2014.
No matter how full I am, there is always a little space for something sweet and I managed to tackle the custard tart with local rhubarb (its a tough job but somebody has to do it!)
I was very impressed with the warmth of the staff (and the oven), the level of service, the yumminess of the wine and the quality of the food. Most of all the food! I now want my own wood fired oven and may ask Santa for one this year. I suspect I might have to ask Santa to bring me Danny too, to guarantee some delicious goodies being cooked in it!
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