To help you more thoroughly plan your golfing trip in Dublin and County Down, we’ve put together this quick guide to some of the best places to eat in the area.
Mourne Seafood Bar
As County Down is on the coast, it’d be remiss not to consider heading out for some fresh seafood dishes, and Mourne Seafood Bar is one of the best around. You can find Mourne Seafood in both Belfast and Dundrum – the Dundrum restaurant is only 3 miles from the Royal County Down golf course, ideal for lunch or dinner after a few rounds.
Mourne Seafood Bar are particularly proud of their shellfish dishes as the ingredients are freshly sourced from their very own seafood beds, and their oysters are sourced from Carlingford Lough. Their menu changes with the seasons, bringing in different ‘catch of the day’ dishes, but you could find yourself enjoying everything from classic battered haddock with chips and mushy peas to spicy fried whole bream with Asian slaw and spicy fries. Peruse their craft beer and cocktail menu for the ideal accompaniment to wash it all down with, whether that be a Belfast Ale or a Dark and Stormy.
Located in the seaside town of Newcastle, County Down, Brunel’s is an award-winning fine dining restaurant with a focus on fresh, local, seasonal cuisine. Named for prolific Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel who worked on several projects in Northern Ireland and fell in love with the scenery, Brunel’s the restaurant aims to be just as innovative.
Brunel’s has a series of menus available for different appetites and times of day. Their dinner menu offers delights such as Atlantic caught sea trout and rabbit cooked 5 ways, followed by sea buckthorn curd, whereas their brunch menu serves up chorizo cassoulet or a classic breakfast fry-up with a few local touches such as Carnbrook sausages and Clonakilty black pudding. Their drinks menu includes wines from around the world, whiskies – some Scottish, others Irish – and a range of cocktails.
Endorsed by the Michelin Guide to ‘Eating out in Pubs’ and the AA Restaurant Guide, popular Balloo House can be found not far from the shores of Strangford Lough. The downstairs dining area is styled as a cosy bistro, complete with live Bluegrass and Traditional Irish music shows every Wednesday and Thursday from 9pm. Their newly refurbished upstairs offers a fine dining experience every Friday and Saturday night, with luxurious local ingredients served up in an intimate atmosphere.
Seasonal fare is the way of the menu here, including dishes which star fresh hauls from the nearby Lough. It’s not just about fish though, as you can feast on Mourne lamb and suckling pig shoulder too, followed by rhubarb, raspberry and rosewater trifle. Their Sunday lunch menu, complete with all the proper trimmings and freshly prepared, features in the Mail on Sunday’s Top 50 Sunday lunches.
The Smuggler’s Table
The Smuggler’s Table, set on the banks of the Dibney River in Killyleagh, provides delicious dishes in a casual setting. Deceptively, yet artfully, ramshackle, The Smuggler’s Table was something of a hidden gem in Killyleagh when it started out, but its reputation has certainly begin to grow and word has spread of chef Roy Abraham’s efforts in recent years. Visitors to the restaurant rave about the venison, the seafood chowder, and the ‘perfect’ scampi. The small and cosy dining room is brought to life by warm and friendly service, lending that particular Irish charm that tourists to the region hope to experience. With both lunch and dinner on the menu from Wednesday to Sunday, The Smuggler’s Table can give you a real taste of what even the smaller towns in County Down have to offer.
Vanilla Wine & Tapas Bar
On Main Street, Newcastle, Vanilla Wine and Tapas specialises in serving up colourful portions of tapas to delight the senses. Decorated in a modern, tiled style, you can see the chefs at work behind the bar, paying attention to the small details as tapas dishes demand. The extensive menu gives the diner plenty of choice, from the classic charcuterie plate and padron peppers to confit duck leg with fried duck egg, or Iberica Pluma steak with roasted celeriac and salsa verde. There are plenty of Spanish wines lined up to accompany your meal, both red and white, with a few other highlights from the Southern hemisphere if that’s what excites your palate. You could even top the evening off with a cocktail – Vanilla Wine & Tapas Bar has a particular interest in what mixes well with premium gins, including Spanish offerings such as Alkkemist and Nordes Atlantic Galician.
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