Saphyre was opened by Kris Turnbull about eighteen months ago.
It’s a very impressive eclectic use of an old church building. The front is a really nice up market furniture showroom and the restaurant is at the rear. The architectural offices are located in the balcony in the main body of the building. Exterior is well kept and modern, yet keeping the original facade of the church.
Saphyre has very elegant and opulent decor with comfortable and intimate seating, which imbibes a wonderful atmosphere. It has a high class and high ended style about it. The seating capacity is for 40-50. The colour scheme is blue, purple, green and gold and works wonders. The cutlery and crockery is the finest German and Swedish offerings and the candle holders come from the Kris Turnbull range. The real interesting thing is that the dining chairs can be purchased, sort of try before you buy!!
To start I was served fresh warm olive bread and herb focaccia with soft County Mayo butter and Maldron salt.
Then I had an Ulster fry- homemade tomato ketchup, black pudding crisps, soda bread croutons on the outside. Inside was a poached egg sitting on potato bread (non wheat,rice flour) foam or espuma and topped with bacon bit crumble and a slice of black truffle. Wonderful presentation and portion size. A guilt free way to enjoy an Ulster Fry with a twist, without being stodgy and fatty. One of Saphyres signature dishes.
To follow was pan fried halibut on fennel purée and bisque, with stem asparagus, stuffed Strangford crab baby artichoke globe and viola flower with dusting of fennel. This plate was very light and citrusy. It was delicious and fish was meaty, the crab was citrusy and worked very well with the fish and it had real seafood flavours.
The main course was Thornhill duck breast on a rhubarb purée, with black and white quinoa, rhubarb and wilted dandelion. Served with crispy confit fried pancake and red wine duck jus. The sweet and sour of the jus and rhubarb really complimented the perfectly cooked duck (on cutting the duck the juices were clear but duck was just pink). A remarkable dish, not too filling, but packing some wonderful tastes and flavours.
As a palate cleanser I had a lemon tart topped with blood orange sorbet, meringue, blood orange segments and Valhrona white chocolate drops and a sprig of fennel. This was a light, fluffy and tarte dish and an intriguing use of fennel.
I had an Americano coffee served with hot milk whilst I was waiting for my sweet dish. Chef made me a rhubarb soufflé infused with ginger and served with frozen yoghurt and yoghurt pieces, accompanied by a biscuit topped with rhubarb and cream topped with yoghurt drops. Again a light fluffy sweet, the hot and cold worked well, as did the biscuit accompaniment. I suggested adding a pinch of green cardamom powder to the soufflé to give an added dimension. This was a superb end to an amazing two hour tasting.
I had a bottle of Badoit sparkling water to wash it all down.
I would thoroughly recommend Saphyre as a truly unique dining experience in decadent surroundings. It is a great place for a celebratory meal, a romantic meal and even a family meal, as they have a children’s menu also. One can mix business with pleasure or indeed shopping and pleasure. Kris and his team deserve all the accolades they get. A big thanks for the wonderful hospitality. Definitely will be back.
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