Family RnR at Londonderry Arms

We (my wife and 8 and 4 year old daughters) spent a wonderful evening and overnight stay, followed by breakfast the next morning, at the very homely yet stately Londonderry Arms Hotel. 

This hotel is truly a family run hotel with Denise at the helm. She is such a wonderful host, treats all her guests and staff as part of her family and we really did feel that. 

Last Saturday we checked into our room and it was very spacious. The two girls had a single bed each and we had the double……but on Sunday morning there were four in the double bed!!!!

As we were quite hungry we decided to dine straightaway after unpacking. We were seated in The Tapestry Room and presented with our menus. The girls also got crayons and colouring in pictures but the little one was soon investigating all the rooms and even ventured into the kitchen and told chef Manus to hurry with our dinner!!

For the girls we ordered sausage and chips and chicken and chorizo penne pasta and garlic bread. My wife and I chose from the Table D’Hote menu. We both chose the seafood chowder. The food duly came out and the four of us tucked into some delicious food. The kids loved theirs and our chowder was nice and thick and packed with local fresh fish. 

For main course I chose the hake and salmon with risotto and salsify tempura. My wife had the goats cheese tartlet. Both my dish and hers tasted absolutely wonderful. Great use of flavours and colours. Combinations were wonderful. My only comment would be that there was too much green garnish. The four of us tucked into the wondrous apple and almond tartlet and coffee. Overall an amazing menu, great use of local produce, served in a lovely setting by exceptional staff.

I then took the girls on a wee tour of the place and told them the history.It was Originally built in 1848 as a coaching inn, by Frances Anne Vane Tempest, Marchioness of Londonderry. Sir Winston Churchill inherited it in 1921- his room was 114. The Georgian architecture, antique furniture, local artist paintings, open log fire and extremely hospitable staff and exceptional food and service all contribute to its AA 3 Star Rating.

It has a very busy Bistro called The Coach House and The Arkle Bar which is an homage to the racehorse Arkle.

It boasts 35 rooms and can accommodate up to 80 guests. The restaurant is expertly run by Chef Manus. He is very active in the Northern Irish chefs circle and I spent a good half an hour chatting to him. 
We then spent the evening in The Churchill Lounge in front of an open fire and my wife performed Henna on the guests and staff!

There is also an amazing formal room named after Churchill called The Churchill Suite.

After an excellent comfy sleep and the best hotel shower I’ve had in a while it was down to The Tapestry Room for Breakfast. This was a selection of cereal and cooked breakfast. Girls had cereal to start and I went for the cooked one. Girls then ordered bits of cooked brekky. Great idea and delivery and limits wastage. Tasted delicious.

After this we went for a brusque walk around the Carnlough Harbour and saw the steps from which Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) emerge from the water in Series 6 of Game Of Thrones.

The girls went back to the room and I went off to check out the local history. I was amazed to learn that Carnlough was an important place for limestone works and there was a railway connecting the harbour with the quarry. Also there is a wonderf natural waterfall called the Cranny Falls which I never got to!!

I would thoroughly recommend one stays in the hotel, experiences the hospitality and spends time visiting the harbour, walking to the Falls and even taking a boat trip round the bay.

Thank you Denise, Manus and all the staff for the great stay!!!!

Dinner at the Belfast Malmaison

For my 1000th Tripadvisor review I decided to choose Malmaison Belfast for an early evening dinner with my family. 

I had recently been to a private cheese tasting function  in the private dining room and that was what clinched the deal. The Mal has been a firm favourite of mine in the past-my wife and I have dined, stayed and enjoyed the hospitality a few times previously.

The General Manager Tina, Restaurant Manager Paul and Chef Raymond facilitated us exceptionally well, as did the rest of the staff. A hearty thank you to you all.

Whilst we were waiting for our table we had a drink in the bar and when Paul brought us through to the dining room my two girls (8 and 4) were amazed at the decour and high ceilings-they spent a few minutes “exploring” the room! We had apple juice, orange juice, Zinfandel (wife) and Ballygowan sparkling water to drink.

We had the opportunity to order off the A La Carte menu and Paul explained the Christmas menu rolls out on the 17th!!

The kids wanted pasta and chicken goujons from the kids menu. I had the scallops and my wife had the prawn and squid tempura. The kids meals came out with our starters and we were all in awe at the presentation of the scallops -3 meaty scallops served on artichoke purée,mushroom and chestnut crumb,served in large shells with a tiny amount of mash under the shell to steady it. Suffice to say they tasted beautiful-a perfect dish. So standards were set high. The presentation of the tempura was also excellent and we loved the chilli and the hot sauce and cooling mayo. The prawns were big and juicy and the squid was perfectly cooked, the tempura batter was a bit thick and soft and not thin and crispy as my wife and I were expecting-but tasted amazing none the less. The chicken goujons were fresh and crispy batter and fries were good. Both my girls did say the tomato sauce in the pasta was a bit bland.

For the main event my wife had a vegetable (chick pea) burger with sweet potato fries and chipotle sauce (in a mini saucepan-what a lovely touch). I went for the Finnebrogue venison, mash, beets and bacon. Chef recommended it be served pink and I agreed. We also chose a side of mushrooms. Again superb presentation, the burger and chips was a big portion and my wife managed half, the other half was lunch today!! My venison was absolutely amazing, just coloured on the outside, pink and juicy inside. The beets, bacon and mash married well with it. A truly exquisite, faultless dish. As we were well and truly fed and as the girls were getting restless we called it a night, much to the chagrin of the girls who wanted ice cream!!

For my 1000th review I could not have chosen a better spot. I shall definitely be back for more!!! What will you try?? 

Thank you Malmaison Belfast.