Saturday, 26 May 2018

The French Rooms

I've been spending a few days at Portballintrae, County Antrim, on Ulster's north coast.

The weather has really been very good, mostly sunny in fact.

I explored Ramore Head and the headland at Portstewart, places I was unfamiliar with.

On Friday evening I dined at The French Rooms, a restaurant, café and artisan shop in Bushmills.

Bushmills, probably my favourite village in County Antrim, is a mere hop, skip and jump from Portballintrae.

It usually suits me to dine early, so I had reserved a table for six-thirty.


On arrival I was shown to a lovely little table, directly opposite the bar counter, which happened to have particularly comfortable leather chairs.


In fact I quipped to the waiter at the time that they were reminiscent of some ancient Bentley or Daimler.

The staff here are engaging and courteous.

Having perused the excellent menus, I opted for Spicy Prawn Pot on Spicy Leaves as a starter.


The trusty nose-bag was donned and I tucked in to a dainty little pot of prawns, dressed in a kind of seafood sauce.

I had motored in to the village, so simply had iced water with the meal.

After a short interval my main course arrived, viz. Cajun French Sea Bass, oven-baked and drizzled with a dill-infused rapeseed oil dressing.

I also had creamed purée potatoes and roast beetroot and cherry tomatoes with it.

The sea bass was delicate, moist, mild, boneless, and complemented my vegetables famously.


I seldom indulge in three courses; the fine list of puddings, however, seduced me, as it were.

Tarte Tatin, the traditional Gallic apple dessert, with toffee sauce and fresh whipped cream, proved to be irresistible.

The thinly-sliced apples almost literally melted in the Belmont mouth.


The layer of pastry underneath was barely discernible, though complemented it perfectly.

During the course of my dinner I chatted with the waiter, recounting tales of The Ugly Ducking in Corralejo, Canary Islands, which was so outstanding and popular that it had to turn away most passers-by.

Another restaurant across the street gained the extra business.

This was the case with The French Rooms last night, so it is advisable to book ahead for dinner.

I had the iPad and headphones with me, the plan being to settle self in the Bushmills Inn a few doors up, so I approached the counter to settle my bill.

To my utter astonishment the staff apprised me that my bill had been paid for by an American couple.

They had been seated at a table twenty or thirty feet away, though I never caught their eyes or even encountered them.

I still have no idea who they were or where they were staying.

This was an opportunity for another good turn, so I gave the staff a good tip instead.

I don't think I've enjoyed myself so much at a restaurant for years.

2 comments :

Handelian said...

No pudding?

Timothy Belmont said...

How remiss or absent-minded of me: I had a sumptuous pudding: and I'll edit the post forthwith! Tim.