Review: The Boat House Restaurant

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We finally got round to eating at The Boat House, put off by the above average menu prices. But little did we know that this is actually good value for its excellent quality.

The Boat House Restaurant is run by two Dutch brothers, Joery and Jasper, who are clearly top-notch professionals. They’ve been managing here for three years (Joery is the chef). Indeed, expect to meet one of them during the course of your meal (which is always a nice touch).

Furthermore, we found the waiting staff friendly and knowledgeable, professional in their service.

The food was incredible. It is hard to compare it with anything else I have eaten in all other restaurants in Northern Ireland; The Boat House is in an upper league of its own. It is more comparable with Michelin restaurants you’d find in London, but at a fraction of the cost.

I had the soup of the day, which was a lobster bisque with generous chunks of lobster: gorgeous. Followed by a main course of halibut and Belfast Lough lobster (the turbot was unavailable tonight), “poached in lightly smoked butter stock, lobster jus, saffron potatoes, green pea puree, Strangford Lough samphire, apple crisp”: a gastronomical delight.

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A peculiar doughnut

Our desserts were also culinary display pieces. But my Manjari Valhrona chocolate and cinnamon doughnut was too much showcase for my liking — it didn’t resemble anything approaching a doughnut and was fiddly to consume. Don’t get me wrong — it was very good — but I’ve had more amazing desserts elsewhere. Perhaps the only part of the dining experience here that was a wee bit pretentious.

The wine selection is excellent. Our group of four consumed a bottle of Txomin Extaniz Chakoli, from the Basque country (and was perfect for my seafood dishes) as well as a bottle of Les Breteches Château Kefraya 2007, Bekka Valley, Lebanon, which is described as “Round and full with aromas and flavours of cacoa, vanilla and blackcurrant with a whiff of wood and tobacco”

As for prices, okay my mains (£21) cost nearly as much as my partner’s 3-course set menu (£25), but that’s the point — you don’t have to break the bank to experience this top-level quality of food and service. But I will add caution about ordering wine — the temptation is to go for the more expensive offerings, so you’ll need some discipline if you want to keep the final bill down.

It is a real treat to have this standard of restaurant near Belfast. If they wanted to, these brothers could achieve that Michelin star. But in a way I hope they don’t, because then I fear they would have to expand their offering and service beyond the intimacy of their current establishment.

We look forward to our return visit.

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