Belfast Telegraph

Review: Burgundy Wine Dinner at The Boat House

By Paula Gracey

We strayed outside our usual comfort zone for a Friday night recently, heading down to The Boat House in Bangor.

We had already heard great things about this gem of a restaurant so when the opportunity arose to attend a Burgundy Wine Dinner, hosted by Neill Wine Importers of Groomsport and Helen’s Bay, and featuring wines from renowned French winemaker Herve Kerlann, we were there with early Christmas bells on!

The Boat House used to be the old lifeboat station on Bangor seafront but for the last 20 years it has been a destination restaurant with a reputation for quality dining.

The minute we arrived I knew I was going to enjoy The Boat House. I love cosy, quaint, with a bit of history and that’s exactly what you get.  Up the well worn stone steps we went and into the welcoming warmth of the restaurant, you are instantly made to feel at home by the friendly staff who could not do enough to make everyone comfortable.

The restaurant is downstairs in a cosy room with whitewashed walls adorned with maritime paintings, soft and comfy furnishings and ambient lighting.

We began with an introduction from the lovely Herve Kerlann who told us about his home in the beautiful Chateau De Laborde which he bought in 1998 and which has nine centuries of unique Burgundy history.

It is his passion and, as he said, there is no plan B in Burgundy – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made with definition and focus, that’s it.

We began with the tastiest starter of Ewings Smoked Salmon Tartare with citrus crème fraiche and Keta, followed by Bangor Bay Crab, Kohlrabi, Hazelnut & Crisp Chicken skin – which I have to tell you were two of the tastiest starters I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

They were paired with Herve Kerlann’s Chablis 2015 which is crisp, and fresh with limestone minerality as well as a pleasant creaminess but with good acidity.  This beautiful Chablis was so good with the sweetness of the stunning seafood starters and is such a bargain for £20.50 from Neill Wines.

A veg medley with baby carrots, hay and carraway was paired with Herve Kerlann Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune En Cuillery. This 2014 Pinot Noir has vibrant kirsh and raspberry flavours, it is a pale and elegant colour and served slightly cool. I love Pinot Noir, my wine of choice for the Christmas table and this one is a snip at the price for £20.50 again.

A fish course of Halibut with cauliflower and creamy lobster Veloute (absolutely delicious) was served with Herve Kerlann Cuvee H Bourgogne Chardonnay Fut de Chene 2015.  This wine recently received 90 points in the esteemed Decanter magazine and well deserved for the blend of Chardonnay grapes from the south of Bourgogne (rich and ripe) and the north (crisp and mineral), another steal for £19.50 from Neill Wine – fabulous.

A meat dish of perfectly cooked Jacobs Ladder with braised salsify and truffle sauce arrived next with Herve Kerlann Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Le Borniques 2015. A tad pricy at £84.40, you might think but not on our own Gold Coast as the amiable Robert Neill informed us he had already sold out! This is a unique wine with its own fabulous personality – full of ripe red fruit flavours and good tannins and acidity which balance the abundance of sumptuous ripe fruits.

Last but not least, dessert, Neary Nog’s Dark Chocolate Delice with Yoghurt ice-cream – died and gone to heaven just there… A-maz-ing! I was already in my happy place, especially with a glass of Sauternes Petit Guirand dessert wine to sip.

What an absolutely perfect meal, full of exciting flavours, paired with fabulous wines (check them out at Neill’s Helens Bay and Groomsport stores) and the lovely Herve Kerlann himself to tell us all about his wines as we went along.

Great food, wine and company – what more could you want to float your boat? We now have a new favourite place to add to our list!

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