Sunday, 22 February 2009

Lunch At Balloo

The thermometer read 10c; weather was fair and dry; so we jumped into the roadster and headed off in a southerly direction towards my beloved Gibb's Island.

Gibb's Island sits on Strangford Lough, near Delamont Country Park in County Down. I donned the wellies and strolled on to the island to inspect the hawthorn hedging and the old dry stone wall. When I see a stone lying on the ground now, I view it from a waller's aspect! I look to see its length - which would go inwards - and if it has a face, as opposed to a rounded or craggy end. The face would be on the outside skin. Does the face have a slant which could be placed in order that any rain-water could drain away? That sort of thing.

We motored back to Balloo, where the well-known restaurant and pub, Balloo House is located. We fancied a snack lunch. Inside, the place was heaving with customers; and we were asked if we'd booked (which we had not). Having waited ten minutes, we were shown to a small table at a far corner of the bistro dining-room where we ordered crab cakes and County Down venison shepherd's pie with celeriac mash and winter vegetables (carrots and cabbage).

My pie was served in a large kind of deep-sided soup plate. This is a hearty meal. Minced venison makes a good substitute for lamb or beef, I feel. It was tasty and ideal for a winter's day. We washed it all down with sparkling apple juice. The pie was £10.95; the crab cakes £5.95. The total was £19.60.

There was a lovely fire blazing in the pub as we arrived. In fact, where we were sitting, tucked away in a corner at the far end, was slightly claustrophobic and stuffy; the Dowager found the heat somewhat overpowering, to the extent that she threw one of her wobblies. I'm glad to say that she made a swift recovery when we left and got in to the open air.

Balloo House proudly displays a plaque presented by Georgina Campbell for the Best Pub Of The Year 2009.

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