Irish News Review July 2014 - Ballyrobin Country Lodge Hotel
SATURDAY JULY 19 2014
Worth a flying visit I
Ballyrobin Country Lodge
144-146 Ballyrobin Road
Co Antrim, BT29 4EG
028 9442 2211
EW family occasions are more
enjoyable than a Sunday lunch.
Unfortunately my babies have all
but grown up and found better
ways to kill a weekend, so once
we were five but we are now down to a
skeleton staff of two.
Myself and one remaining full-timer known
as ‘the child’ – despite no longer being any
such thing – decided to take a drive out
for some sustenance and the Ballyrobin
Country Lodge seemed ideal.
I’m old enough to remember when
Ballyrobin Lodge sat in behind the
permanent army checkpoint on the road
that leads to Belfast International Airport
I can’t imagine being inside the security
cordon was good for business, but
thankfully times have changed and the
airport can now be accessed without
having your car searched by a man dressed
There has been some considerable
investment in recent years, a large
extension to the rear has upgraded the
premises to a boutique hotel.
Thankfully the lovely period restaurant
hasn’t been tampered with too much, full of
character and with interesting spaces and
We had no booking but were quickly taken
to a seat in a cosy corner surrounded by
The Sunday lunch menu had starters of
chicken liver parfait and goat’s cheese
fritters on offer; tempting but we abstained
and went straight to mains.
The child had a supreme of salmon. The
menu said it came with a prawn bearnaise
and tarragon sauce. As we had previously
established during one of my experimental
Masterchef moments, she doesn’t like
tarragon and so asked for it to be left out.
I ordered the slow-cooked daube of
Glenarm beef with all the trimmings.
As we waited lots of families came and
went and the atmosphere was incredibly
relaxed and friendly.
My main of tender beef with a huge
Yorkshire pudding arrived, a few roast
potatoes, some creamy mash and buttered
veg of the traditional sort, on the side.
The child’s dish was, I’m afraid,
disappointing. Rather than leave the
tarragon out of the sauce they’d just left off
the sauce. There sat a solitary piece of fish,
unloved and alone.
A bubbling hot side of dauphinoise
potatoes were placed down but the
expression on her face said it all. I asked
our very young but very lovely waiter who
said he’d talk to the chef.
The problem was quickly rectified and the
chef rustled up the bronzed butter and
prawn sauce minus the offending herb.
The dauphinoise was garlic-y, rich and
delicious, the sauce silky and buttery.
The fish I didn’t get to taste because she
scoffed it all, so it must have been good.
“The dauphinoise was
garlic-y, rich and delicious,
the sauce silky and buttery.
The fish I didn’t get to taste
because she scoffed it all, so
it must have been good”
Ballyrobin also has a grill menu for steak
lovers and it seemed to be one of the main
reasons people chose the restaurant.
It included salt-aged rump steak with triple
cooked chips and a smoked garlic oil
sauce at a very reasonable £15.95; maybe
I enjoyed a glass of wine – sad that my
offspring were growing up while at the
same time delighted they could now
double up as designated drivers.
Desserts were ordered, I expected large
bulking cakes and pies given the country
feel to the location but instead we were
presented with fine dining style sweets.
I had a white chocolate creme brulee with
coconut ice cream while my chauffeur had
lemon tarte with vanilla cream.
The creme brulee made a satisfying crack
when hit with a spoon, just the right
amount of crunchy sugar top, and the
coconut ice cream was delicious and
The lemon tarte was zesty and sharp, as
it should be, with a scattering of berries,
pretty as a picture served on a chefy slate.
It was a great bit of mother/daughter
bonding but better still was the price, two
delicious high quality courses each with a
drink for around £40.
Most people only drive along the
Ballyrobin Road on the way to the airport
to go elsewhere, but it really is worth a
stopover en route.
Sunday lunch special
£16.95 for two courses x 2: £33.90
BERIAN cuisine encapsulates dishes
from Spain and Portugal – it is famous
for seafood and uses spices reflecting
African and New World influences. Fresh
and simply cooked, it is best enjoyed
slowly and leisurely and perfect for
barbecues or just enjoying a quiet
drink with friends.
Lidl have launched a new range of
Iberian foods for summer and to
complement it a new range of wines.
Spanish wine production is on the
increase and in 2013 Spain overtook
France to become the world’s second
largest wine producer. There’s lots of
solid value among the Spanish reds –
here’s a few to tempt your taste buds
with those lovely summer tapas.
The Baturrica Reserva
Tarragona 2009 (£4.79) boasts
Tempranillo and Garnacha –
they are the two grapes to
look out for in a Spanish
red. Bright juicy flavours
— strawberry fruit lingers
underneath presenting itself
on the lively palate which is
creamy textured and super
smooth – dried fruit, raisins,
and cherries on the nose –
tasting significantly better
than its modest price.
Baturrica Gran Reserva
Tarragona 2007 (£4.99) is
a great wine for the price. Made from
Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon
and aged for 24 months in oak and
then a further 36 months in bottle
(making a total of five years which
are required for the classification
of Gran Reserva). Deep ruby red
with purple highlights, the first
taste is exceptionally smooth and
soft with velvety cream notes and
black fruit flavours. A sweet but
unobtrusive layer gave it a
The Cepra Lebrel Rioja
Crianza 2011 (£5.49) is
another great match for tapas.
Hot weather provided for an
excellent 2011 vintage in Rioja
and this Crianza has also
benefitted from 12 months
ageing in a barrel. Fruit
flavours spread over the palate
before the ripe tannins kick in
for a long balanced finish.
Cepa Lebrel Rioja Reserva
2009 Spain (£5.99) is the pick
of Lidl’s current good value
range. It also shows how, even
on a cheaper level, the oak and bottle
maturation on a reserva makes
its presence felt. This one is
full-on crushed strawberries
and well-integrated oak from 24
months of ageing in a barrel.
The structure of the wine
opens up on the palate where
the blackberry, blueberry and
strawberry fruit mix well with
spicy tannins. This wine would
pair well with most red meats
but I think it would be great
with slow-roasted lamb. n Lidl’s range of Iberian wines
are instore from July 21.