Review: Prices fit for a king at the Galgorm’s Castle Kitchen & Bar

Rump of Mourne Lamb from the Castle Kitchen & Bar
-Credit: (Image: Belfast Live)

When you think of high-end hospitality in Northern Ireland, there are few to rival the Galgorm Resort outside Ballymena.

Whether it be for weddings, a spa day or a luxury weekend away with the other half, it’s often the go-to spot for many across NI looking to treat themselves for a night or two.

Myself and my better half wanted to do just that to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, and given that neither of us had ever been through the doors of the place, thought we would give it a go.

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I have to say we were thoroughly impressed with the majority of our stay, from the excellent Thermal Village to the attentive staff, we had a great break.

For dinner at the resort there are a few options, most of which are on site, Gillies Grill and Fratelli are two of the most popular, but unfortunately were booked up by the time I went to reserve a table. Forward planning has never been one of my strong points.

Nevertheless we had had a few recommendations from friends that the off-site Castle Kitchen and Bar, located at the nearby golf resort, was as good, if not better than the alternatives.

When you stay at the hotel, they kindly offer a free transfer service for the five minute journey to the Castle, which slightly resembled a vengabus with a few giddy couples and girl gangs after a pre-dinner cocktail or two.

On arrival we were well looked after by the staff and shown to a nice booth overlooking the course and presented with menus for food and drinks.

The menus are actually quite similar to that of Gillies Grill in the main resort itself, and you would imagine they use the same suppliers so much of what’s on offer will be the same across the two venues.

For starters we shared their house focaccia and a portavogie prawn dish with garlic butter and herbs. The focaccia wasn’t really a focaccia and if there was any garlic butter on the prawns you certainly couldn’t taste it.

So not a great start, but things certainly improved when it came to the main courses.

I got a rump of Mourne lamb which was cooked perfectly pink, and came with a separate piece of crispy lamb shoulder, battered almost in the form of a croquette. Served with courgette, mushroom and potato rosti and lathered in a herby green sauce, everything went perfectly well together and was presented beautifully.

Portavogie prawns on toast from the Castle Kitchen & Bar
Portavogie prawns on toast from the Castle Kitchen & Bar -Credit:Belfast Live

The other half had the pan seared halibut, which came with cauliflower, potato dumpling and a bisque, which was so good it could have been served as a drink.

Washed down with a bottle of Malbec and a cocktail each to finish, it was a really enjoyable meal and we could have stayed and sampled a few more of the funky cocktail menu, but the vengabus back to the resort awaited.

While the experience was certainly a pleasant one all round and we didn’t mind treating ourselves for the occasion, as with most things associated with the Galgorm, I would say it is overpriced.

Pan roasted hallibut from the Castle Kitchen & Bar
Pan roasted hallibut from the Castle Kitchen & Bar -Credit:Belfast Live

Our total bill came to £142 for two starters, two mains, a bottle of wine and two cocktails. I’ve been to more expensive restaurants here in NI, but I would argue they were miles ahead of the Castle Kitchen in terms of value.

So well worth a visit if you’re staying at the Galgorm, but make sure to bring the wallet with you…

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