Sunday, 22 September 2019

Portballintrae Visit

Seaport Lodge, September, 2019

Earlier in the week I spent several days in the seaside resort of Portballintrae, County Antrim.

This coastal village, near Bushmills, has always been popular, with its delightful sandy bays, Bushfoot Strand, the little harbour, and its general location on the Causeway Coast.

We used to spend weekends here at the Beach Hotel with friends.

Alas, that hotel was demolished many years ago and has been replaced with modern apartments.

The Bayview Hotel, however, remains; not the original building, which was also demolished ages ago.

I spent two agreeable evenings in the lounge bar of the Bayview, contented with my iPad and headphones.

Catch of the Day at the Bayview Hotel

On the first evening I had a bar meal comprising a blue cheese and beetroot salad, followed by the "Catch of the Day": smoked cod, mashed potato, spinach, surrounded by a creamy sauce.

This food was delicious.

Thereafter I removed to a banquette-style seat near the front door and Reception.

I have acquired a pair of state-of-the-art noise-cancelling headphones, Bluetooth (wireless), which cut out virtually all outside noise except whatever you're listening to on the iPad or other device.

Quite remarkable technology.

The next morning I paid a brief visit to Coleraine, one of my favourite towns.

On the way home, I made a small detour to Bushmills Garden Centre, a few miles outside the village itself.

For some inexplicable reason I've developed an interest in gardening, albeit on a modest scale.

I was on the look-out for a plant that likes dry conditions and the garden centre was promoting Sedums.

I'm apprised that this variety thrives in sunshine and doesn't mind dry conditions, so a spot between two thirsty trees in the border ought to satiate it.

I chose a lovely Sedum Spectabile "Brilliant".

When I purchased it there was a bee eating the nectar, adhering to it like a magnet.

It refused to budge (lest it had discovered the irresistible Belmont bouquet), so some gentle persuasion was required, viz. some of the Belmont blowing.


After breakfast one morning I strolled the short distance to Seaport Lodge, once the maritime residence of the Leslies.

Seaport Lodge commands one of the finest prospects in Portballintrae, with its little private harbour.

Unfortunately it has lain derelict for many years, though the owner is finally restoring it as I write.

Seafood Thermidor

The next evening I motored into Portrush, past the celebrated Royal Portrush Golf Club, to the harbour, where I had the Seafood Thermidor at Ramore Wine Bar.

I rather like the Ramore complex, which has several different bars and restaurants.

Just do not expect the conventional type of restaurant where you can reserve a table in advance, order at the table, and await service.

At Ramore wine bar you are shown to a clearly numbered table, peruse the menu, and walk up to the bar counter where they ask for your number, take your order, and you settle the account there and then.

This unconventional system works very well for Ramore and I find it perfectly acceptable.

During my break in Portballintrae the weather was mostly sunny, dry and quite warm, something I took full advantage of.

Perma-tan Belmont.


THE French Rooms is a charming restaurant in the centre of Bushmills, just along the street from the Inn.

Their opening hours vary, and at the time of writing dinner is only served on Friday and Saturday evenings; so I was fortunate to get my favourite (and lucky) Table Eight.

The last time I was seated at Table Eight an unknown American couple paid for my meal (unknown to me, because they had paid for it and departed some time before I'd finished my meal).

For this happy reason Mrs Bolton recognized me instantly and greeted my like an old pal.

Perhaps they ought to re-name Table Eight "Lord Belmont's Table".

For dinner I had the goat's cheese, served in a little, tied paper parcel on a wooden platter, with home-made chutney, lemongrass-infused olive oil, and rustic bread.

The main course consisted of sea-bass, garlic cubed fries, and beetroot gratin.

Needless to say, it was all delicious and superb; beautifully presented, too.

After dinner I repaired to the Bushmills Inn, ordered a beverage, and settled down at a small table with the iPad and headphones.

The next morning it was time to pack up, tidy up, and motor back home to the Belmont GHQ.


Hndelian said...

Are you off puddings?

Timothy Belmont said...

Ha ha! I love puddings. On this occasion I had starters instead. I was sorely tempted to have three courses at The French Rooms, though I simply hadn't enough room!

Handelian said...

Puddings out often disappoint. Six pounds, if you please, for a chocolate brownie, two scoops of ice cream, or a slice of whatever Chef has defrosted today from the Sara Lee gateau factory. No, thanks. Better to save yourself for something exquisite from a classier establishment, or homemade.

Sounds like a great couple of days on the north coast.