Did we find yet another restaurant gem in our latest visit to Northern Ireland?
I know — it’s been a long while since we last published anything. Suffice it to say, February has been a bit of a hectic and unpredictable month. Fortunately, the last weekend put a little positive spin on all the chaos with a four-day visit to Bangor, Northern Ireland. You may remember our last four-part series based there back in 2017? Reviewing the self-proclaimed best restaurant in Belfast, The Ivory Restaurant and the luxurious Clandeboye Lodge Hotel, not to mention a two-part special centred around Bangor’s finest Hop House.
It was our friends who got married – Steve and Gina – who I was visiting again, in the company of a frequent co-reviewer of ours, Matt Lawson. Most of the action of our sojourn in Bangor took place on the Saturday, beginning with a highly-recommended walk up to Scrabo Tower (see pictured). I would like to see what the photographers in my acquaintance could do with the views here. The walk is, however, not advisable for those who can’t handle steep inclines or declines.
A bar called The Goat’s Toe was our destination for watching the rugby (in my arrogance, predicting incorrectly that England would beat Wales). Just a short walk away, is an Indian restaurant called Bokhara. A recommendation of Steve and Gina’s, this was where we had dinner that evening, accompanied by several of Steve’s in-laws.
Full marks immediately go to this place for the variety on their menu. Even while we were waiting to be seated, menus were available for perusing. I had my heart set on lamb, but as to what specific dish – my mind changed several times on that. Eventually, I settled on a good, old-fashioned Lamb Biryani (see pictured).
The first thing I feel compelled to remark upon is the presentation. I know the rice part of the dish itself was not necessarily anything special, and the curry part in an accompanying bowl (see pictured) even less so. It was the tomato rose I could not help but admire. It takes a steady hand and a lot of patience to craft something even like that, which, to the pros, is quite simple.
It’s a shame the tomato was there purely for artistic presence, rather than flavour. Luckily, the other ingredients in the Biryani had that in abundance. The garlic and spices dominated, as can be expected, apart from the ginger, which I felt was basically redundant. I also thought the comparatively different taste and temperature of the slices of cucumber clashed with those of the rest of the ingredients. And while the lamb pieces were small, there was a lot of meat on the plate, which redeemed the dish somewhat. A huge garlic Naan bread on the side helped towards making this a very filling standalone main course – no real need for a starter or dessert before or afterwards. Quite worth the £15ish it cost.
Want my honest opinion? I think this restaurant could have been a front-runner for the top spot of the 2019 scoreboard had the service not let it down. It was a controversial opinion at the time, but I did feel our servers could have been more attentive. Fair enough — there was a very large party in at the same time as us. But by observing proper procedure, quality of service for the rest of the restaurant should not be compromised. Otherwise, well worth a visit if you happen to be looking for a good Indian in Bangor, Northern Ireland.