Sunday, 14 September 2008

Portballintrae: Weekend Break

It was such a fine afternoon at my aunt's house in Portballintrae, County Antrim, yesterday that we sunbathed in the gentle autumn sunshine. We called at Ramage's supermarket in Bushmills earlier, where I bought two bottles of the excellent Australian red wine by McGuigan's, Black Label; and a Daily Telegraph.

I phoned the Bushmills Inn Hotel and the Causeway Hotel to make dinner reservations for the Friday and Saturday. 

Our dinner at the Bushmills Inn was very good. The Dowager enjoyed a prawn starter, served as a main course; and I had a delicious loin of lamb, served pink with various vegetables including sauté garlic potatoes. We shared sticky toffee pudding with whipped cream for dessert. The meal, including one round of drinks, set us back £46.60.

On Saturday morning, having indulged in a breakfast consisting of very crispy bacon with Hovis Seed Sensations bread, butter and honey, we motored in to Coleraine, County Londonderry, where I went walkabout while the Dowager rested in the two-seater. I'm really very fond of Coleraine.

Following an idle afternoon spent lapping up the sunshine in the back garden, we drove to the Causeway Hotel for dinner at seven-thirty. This place is another favourite haunt of mine: traditional, cosy, welcoming, a constant buzz with patrons, unpretentious. The grub is wholesome Ulster fare and this hotel's popularity says it all. 

The dining-room is very large indeed: part of it was probably once the ball-room. It's spacious and comfortable. I had an old favourite, yet again: scampi with garlic fries, onion-rings and roast vegetables. The helpings here are fit for an Ulster farmer - ask about their famous mixed grill! We hadn't room for pudding, so the bill was £23.10.

Today we packed up before midday and had intended to lunch at another favourite establishment, Bushmills Garden Centre. Since it did not open till twelve-thirty, we decided, reluctantly, to drive home. Still, we enjoyed our dinner at home: breaded plaice, baby potatoes with garlic butter and chives; and petit pois.

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