The restaurant was opened by Head Chef Chris McGowan and his wife Davina at the tail end of 2015 quickly establishing itself as one of Northern Ireland’s ‘must-visit’ restaurants. I have been looking forward to trying out the food for myself and finally had the opportunity to do so recently.
The Georgian building which houses the restaurant has been lovingly refurbished but still retains many of its period features. The building looks compact from the outside but opens up Tardis-like into a surprisingly large space. At the front is a well-stocked bar which leads into the spacious dining room and to the side is an open kitchen where McGowan works his magic producing food that you will just want to get stuck in and eat.
|Black Pudding Sausage Roll|
The menu is divided into four sections and includes Snacks, Starters, Main Courses and Desserts. We quickly decided to order some of the Snacks which we asked to be served together. Within a short time our table was laden with three of the dishes on offer. Bread, Curd, Brown Butter (£3.50) which included superior wheaten bread with a rather curious, but tasty, sweetness to it and a small round ‘bloomer’ loaf which was served sliced in two. These were served along with wonderful goat’s curd and a large pat of almost nutty tasting brown butter.
|Crispy Hen's Egg|
As soon as we saw the Homemade Black Pudding Sausage Rolls, House Ketchup (£5) listed on the menu we knew that we had to order them! Three bite-sized sausage rolls were served with a flavoursome homemade tomato ketchup which mercifully, unlike commercially produced versions, was not over-sweetened but retained a certain acidity that cut through the richness of the deeply meaty sausage rolls. The snacks are designed to share and between the two of us we polished off the lot and sat in happy anticipation waiting for our starters to arrive.
My companion’s Pumpkin Risotto, Beef Short Rib (£5.50) was comfort food heaven in a bowl; full of punchy flavours and soothing textures. I particular loved the combination of the melt-in-the-mouth beef with the nutty sweetness of the pumpkin. This is the sort of food that I find impossible to resist and I kept leaning across the table to steal the odd forkful much, I imagine, to the irritation of my dining companion.
Across the table Pheasant, Sprout Tops, Chestnut, Bacon (£16) was going down a treat. Pheasant has a tendency to dry out during cooking but here it had been sensitively handled and was still succulent. A velvety smooth chestnut purée and an almost sticky jus accentuated rather than swamped the flavour of the pheasant and both were fabulous eaten with the wilted sprout tops. This was a hearty dish but one that felt sophisticated.
The Rhubarb Soufflé, Vanilla (£7) was one of the best desserts I have had this year. The soufflé is made to order and arrived to our table standing proud. With appropriate pomp and ceremony, our waitress made a hole in the top of the soufflé and popped in a quenelle of vanilla ice-cream. Crème Anglaise was also served on the side and this also made its way into the soufflé. We spent the next few minutes savouring every last bite of this heavenly dessert which managed to evoke all the tastes of the very best rhubarb crumble. This was a wonderful finish to our meal.
The food in Wine & Brine strikes a perfect balance between the heartiness of home cooking and the elegance of the best fining dining restaurant. The slick but friendly service immediately puts the diner at ease and creates a homely ambience. Portion sizes are generous and considering the quality of the food that we ate, represented astonishing value for money. Moira is about 35 minutes from Belfast and a two hour drive from Dublin and is easy to reach. I urge you to book a table.
Wine & Brine
59 Main Street
|Lemon, Basin, Meringue|