Chapter V, 5 Killyman Street, Moy. Tel: 028 8778 4521
It’s not every day you’ll find a powerful puck of breathy nduja, a warming spoonful of champ and some sweet plum sauce on the same plate. For that experiment in fusion cooking you have to travel to the Moy where chef Conor McCabrey and his wife Ellen run Chapter V.
The Moy is one of Tyrone’s most visually charming villages with an elegant square at its heart. A former major horse-trading centre, it has become a prosperous market town and where there is prosperity, there is appetite.
Chapter V knows its market well, but where it might get away with serving volume, it aims higher and provides dishes which are ambitious too.
Which is why the confit of duck comes with nduja and plum sauce, potato fondant and heritage carrots and a humdinger jus which brings it all together. (The champ was one of the side orders).
The restaurant occupies a Georgian commercial building overlooking the square. It’s full of period features including an outside stone staircase and archway and the period charm continues inside where fireplaces are lit and modern additions sit comfortably with the historic fabric of the house.
Diners are brought into a cosy little bar area where drinks are served and menus studied.
A team of young women has been artfully trained and their confidence creates comfort and the three of us relax as the unknown quickly becomes familiar.
It’s Sunday and my fears that the Sabbath’s limitations will reduce choices to carvery-style dinners are soon set aside. Ewing’s seafood fishcakes with celeriac remoulade, baked St Kevin’s brie with candied walnut, orange and black pepper, arancini with nduja, goat’s cheese, red pepper jam and coriander are among the starters which includes a soup of the day of celeriac and apple.
The three of us quickly squabble over who’s having what — my rule is everybody at the table has to have something different — and I end up with the chilli chicken. I thought I pulled the short straw until I dip into the little bowl of accompanying napa slaw. The finely shredded red cabbage is blessed with a sparkling, sour and bitter and yet beautifully balanced dressing of what tastes like soy and rice vinegar. It’s genuinely thrilling.
The fishcake is a satisfyingly nobbly patty packed with prawns and white fish. The remoulade is a great partner. The brie is what it is. I’m too old for baked cheese. Leave cheese alone.
Mains of pork belly and black pudding, confit of duck and a miso cured salmon filet all bear the marks of masterful balance. The pork belly is lush and moist, the meat imbued with the rich fatty flavours but not overpowered by it. The black pudding comes in a light mounded spoonful providing an extra dimension of flavour and texture and the pressed potato, roast cauliflower and crab apple sauce boost the dish with sweetness and depth.
The duck leg and accompanying root veg and squash is full of surprises. There is an unusual dry sweetness, something almost floral about the squash and the perfectly steamed purple carrots and little dabs of plum and other sauces. It is intriguing, different yet familiar and well executed. I love nduja with anything but it’s an unnecessary distraction here. That’s until I add a spoonful of champ to the plate. Mixing the two together gives me child-like delight.
Reports about the salmon on my left are good. It looks perfectly cooked, flaky, bright, its skin crispy. The salmon has been pimped up with gnocchi, some wilted greens and a rich romesco.
Unconstrained by Sundays or a conservative audience, it’s a daring, charming and slick operation with, incidentally, a bold wine list from Robb’s.
That front of house team knows how to do hospitality and is proof that even very young ones (Ellen McCabrey says the team’s average age is 17) will perform like true professionals given the right training. Hats off.
Chilli chicken £3
Pork belly £19
Duck leg £19
Le Vaux St George Pinot Noir £29.95
Desserts x 3 £9