So this little jewel in Hillsborough has went under the knife and had a hefty makeover worth half a million pounds and I was very lucky to be invited along to see how it was looking, and to try some the of the dishes from its extensive menu. All made by the talented hands of head chef Danny Millar and his team.
Having not had the pleasure of being in the Parsons Nose before I had to rely on surrounding opinions on just how much of a change had been made to the place. A new large seating area to the rear, window laden and flooded in natural light in stark contrast to the original front bar area, which keeps its warmth and charm. A roaring open fire and the buzz of relaxed punters having a natter over a pint of something local and thirst quenching. An absolutely captivating atmosphere and something you wouldn’t find in the city.
Speaking of local, our first choice was between either a Shortcross Gin & tonic or a Farmageddon Gold Pale Ale! Genuinely one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make! 🙂 The craft beer lover in me won the fight and as it turns out it was a good choice as they do Farmageddon on tap! Already I’ve decided that i’ll be back here, and I haven’t even eaten anything yet. Don’t worry Shortcross, I still love you…
The biggest addition to the Parson’s Nose as far as the food goes is its stone base wood fired oven. Something with a name that long is bound to be impressive and by God it was. Not half as impressive though as the skill required to actually use it, given the unpredictability of temperature, hot spots and the like, it takes experience and sheer intuition to master this cooking method.
Chef Danny Millar
So onto our food and a starter of Portavogie prawns with local artisan chorizo, peppers with orange gremolata and served with sourdough. Big push on the local produce here, and why not? I, and many others have said it, Northern Ireland produce is fantastic. A first for me eating prawns from the shell. An altogether less unpleasant experience than I imagined it would be and I would actually do it again. The chorizo mix underneath was excellent. Each of our courses came paired with wines (oh alright then!). This one came with a Verdicchio Sartarelli, Castelli di Jesi, 2015 (Italy).
Next up was something pretty special. Now, wood fired ovens are famously associated with…yes…Pizzas! And out they came. Glamorously served by….ME! Of course you lift a couple of pizzas to bring to a room full of bloggers and you get snapped umpteen times! But hey, these pizzas were nothing short of outstanding. The entire room was making ‘mmmmm’ noises. These Italian works of art came with a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Umani Ronchi 2015 (Italy).
Now for the main course and we got a peek of it before it went in the oven. Being a 100% carnivore, I loved seeing these cuts of Glenarm shorthorn cote de beouf, which were then wood fired for around just 7 minutes. Served with asparagus, Bearnaise sauce and chips sauteed with chilli, rosemary, anchovy, olives and garlic oil.
An absolute dream for meat lovers and served with a Malbec Reserva, Finca Sophenia, 2014 (Argentina). I haven’t commented on the wine so far as I’m not a huge wine drinker and far from an expert but this one in particular was very good and reinforced the red wine with red meat relationship for me.
Our Main Course
Dessert time and custard tart with pear and gingerbread ice cream. Fantastic way to end a meal. The gingerbread ice cream did it for me, what a hit.
I’ve already a return visit planned. Congratulations to owners Ronan and Jenny Sweeney, Chef Danny and his team and the lovely staff in the Parsons Nose. A first class dining experience. I will see you again soon.
A huge thanks to Fiona at Jago Communications for the invite.
“I grew up and live in Belfast, Northern Ireland. On my blog, I share with you my huge passion for Northern Ireland food and drink, along with the odd ramble about anything else that happened to come to mind!”