Thursday, 1 September 2011

Northern Bound Part 2 The Salty Dog

So part 2 of my Northern trip ended with a Saturday night stay at The Salty Dog Hotel and a meal at it's very well reviewed restaurant run by Head Chef Derek Creagh. I won't get into too much of a review of the hotel but it was really nice, good value at £70 for a double room ensuite with breakfast. The breakfast is absolutely delicious, the full Ulster or a selection of pastries. The full Ulster fry came as you would expect with soda bread and fadge (potato bread), locally sourced meats and every element seemed freshly cooked with real care. The coffee, toast and butter were also soo nice. Loved the attention to detail.

The menu had some really tasty looking dishes.

My wife went for Fois Gras and Chicken Lever Parfait, Date & Pear Chutney. This was absolutely delicious. Rich and creamy, so tasty, fruity spiced chutney.  A real cracker of a dish.

I went for Thinly Sliced Rose Veal, Breaded Veal Sweetbreads, Broad Beans, Girolle, Truffle Pecorino, Almond Butter Vinagrette. This was a very accomplished dish and quite delicate and subtle. I really loved it.

We both had Local Monkfish, Chorizo, Avocado, Olive Cheeks, Langoustine, "Baked Beans" and we got sides of mash potatoes and buttered greens. This dish was also delicious, hearty food. Something you'd expect to see in a really good Spanish restauarant. I liked the fact that it wasn't so 'restauranty'. The mash was top top class. I don't know but I just love the really simple things, or seemingly simple things, done super well and the mash was so smooth, creamy, buttery and perfectly seasoned.

For dessert I had Creme Brulee with Almonds and Poached Apricot and a glass of Reisling to go with it. I like when I get a dessert wine pairing.

My wife didn't order dessert but the waiter brought her one anyway because he said we'd been 'neglected' a little becasue he was so busy. We hand't felt neglected at all but I really appreciate these gestures. It's a part of what great service is all about. The waiter told me he'd been working with Derek for a good few years and had followed him from Deane's in Belfast. A good call by Derek I think.

 I can't 100% remember what was in it (honeycomb, olive oil ice cream and a fruit puree I think) was really nice.

We had a bottle of the house white, a coffee to go with our 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 sides, 2 desserts, a glass of Resiling. The bill was £80. I call that great value.

There was a discussioon recently between a good few chefs on Twitter about punters complaining about the price of things and not understanding the true concept of value. I really do get value and the Salty Dog (and Harrys) is what it's all about. It's food that by it's concept, quality of ingredients, flavour combinations, skill of preparation and service puts it at a fine dining top restaurant level but at a price that is equivialnt to a local restaurant. In other words, you can see every single cent on the plate and in fact, you wonder how the hell they are doing it for that price.

Great stuff, I will be back.

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