Bangor's Boat House back in business
Co Down restaurant The Boat House has reopened under the ownership of the duo behind neighbouring restaurant the Salty Dog, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Husband and wife team Ken and Lisa Sharp say they want to bring drama back to the dinner table as they take on the challenge of fine dining at their second restaurant.
The new owners have big plans for the tiny restaurant and want to bring an element of performance into dishes with ideas including using smoke for flavour and effect and grating ingredients at the table in front of guests.
The new restaurant - which will be named The Boat House Dining - will be headed up by executive chef Tim Brunton, whose background includes working at the Culloden's Mitre restaurant and Tedfords.
He joined Salty Dog four and a half years ago as head chef.
He will work alongside Andy Scollick (23) - described by Ken as a "young and talented sous chef brimming with ideas".
Ken also added that the decision had given many of his staff members the chance to step up into bigger roles.
The Boat House closed on October 30 after founder, Dutch-born Joery Castel, decided to take time out of the kitchen.
Ken said he had "the rather large shoes of the Castel brothers to fill".
Joery opened the restaurant eight years ago with his brother Jasper, who has left to spend more time with his family. The restaurant is based in a 19th century boat house on Bangor marina and became the first in Northern Ireland to make Sunday Times Top 100 list last year.
Ken and Lisa took over the Salty Dog which faces The Boat House four years ago.
However, despite a recent revamp inside, the couple say the Salty Dog will remain much the same, with the same casual dining atmosphere and varied menu.
The pair had begun to run special fine dining nights throughout the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 but will now move all fine dining over to The Boat House.
Ken said: "So many people have never seen a full truffle before so we thought it would add to the experience to grate the truffle at the table in front of guests.
"We also use Peter Hannan's meat which is aged in his Himalayan Salt chamber - we keep the Himalayan Rock salt on the table so guests will be able to grate their own rock salt. We will also be using smoking in various ways. Some of the dishes will be served covered by a glass cloche but you won't be able to see inside because it will be filled with smoke and there might be smoked beetroot as part of the dish.
"For a long time the whole waiting side of things has been devalued, but we want to involve waiters more in the making of the dish and the experience. We are starting to rethink how we see ourselves and since we have taken on The Boat House we are starting to think of ourselves as in the entertainment industry now.
"People will pay £90 to go and see a performer or watch a sports match but our customers are paying £50-60 a head to dine in a restaurant with maybe only 25 other people and personal attention."
The couple were approached by Joery and Joey earlier this year. "We have worked together over the years and I appreciate they have been flying the flag for local food in Bangor now for a long time. I think part of it is that they felt their legacy was safe with us. We are now looking forward to building on that reputation, in our own unique way, over the coming years."
The pair met when they both worked for the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace and have worked on the Isle of Barra, Nantucket Island and the Royal Yacht Britannia.