We are just back from a wee long weekend in Northern Ireland visiting our friends. We stayed with them in Coleraine & spent most of our time in County Antrim exploring and eating (of course).
It was my first time in Northern Ireland and I didn’t realise how cheap you can get flights from Glasgow, handy as we already have another trip booked for next year. It took an hour and a bit to drive to Coleraine from Belfast International. Luckily for us, we visited during the heatwave so it was nice and dry as we wandered about. It also meant that we could have a barbeque on the first night – I love a barbeque!
The following morning we all had sore heads so took our time getting ready and then drove the short distance to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge near Ballintoy. Carrick-a-Rede is owned by The National Trust and is a rope bridge that was originally built & used by Salmon fisherman to get to the tiny island of Carrickarede, where it was easier to catch fish. It is about 30 metres high and is now reinforced so that tourists can see this beautiful spot & see views out to Rathlin Island, and even Scotland.
I can vouch that it is a gorgeous place and a nice walk to do if you are in the area.
That night we ate in nearby seaside town Portrush, which was packed out because it was graduation weekend. We managed to get a table in 55 Degrees North – and a great table it was with views out to the water. The restaurant location really cannot be beaten.
55 Degrees North
The cocktail list was not massive but the cocktails were yummy and it was nice to see them using fresh ingredients like real strawberries. To give you an idea of the menu, we had mussels and tear & share bread (complete with tapanade, garlic mayo & pesto) to start then seabass, seafood linguine, a burger & pork stack as mains.
Seabass fillets with baby potatoes, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, chorizo & garlic butter
The food here was fantastic, with the mussels & the pork stack being highlights.
Pork medallions with parma ham, cheese, roast pepper & a pesto and balsamic drizzle
The toilets were a let down with one lock broken and the other two having no loo roll but, in their defence, it was late at night. We felt that the service could have been a bit better but this is probably because we were not sat until about 9pm so everyone was clearing up. Saying that, I will go back to 55 Degrees North if we are in Portrush again because the food and views were so nice.
After dinner we fancied a drink so went to a nearby pub called The Atlantic Bar. It was very rustic (!) but there was a girl singing live who was first class so if you are passing on a Saturday night then pop your head in for a listen.
The following day we got a taxi to Bushmills Distillery to do the distillery tour and have a dram or two.
Unfortunately for us it was silent season when we visited so the distillery was not in action but still do tours. The tour is £7 per adult and they take you around all of the machinery and explain the production of their whisky then give you a dram afterwards. I found it quite interesting but our friends have been before not in silent season and said that it was much better.
After the distillery we wandered through Bushmills (stopping at Bushmills Inn-we were on holiday after all!) and it looked like a lovely little place that would be an excellent choice for a quiet weekend.
We had been recommended to eat at Ramore Wine Bar in Portrush so went there for dinner on Sunday night. They don’t take reservations so you put your name down then go to the bar or terrace area until they call out your name. Luckily we did not have to wait for long as we were hungry. Once sat you choose your food then go to the bar to order, collect your cutlery then wait for your food. A bit like Nandos, really. When the food did arrive it was to die for and massive portions. The scampi was obviously homemade and had a tempura-like batter whilst the BBQ rib meat was falling off the bone.
Scampi, mushy peas & tartare sauce (£8.95 without chips)
The other two both had pittas – a pulled pork pitta and a chilli beef pitta – and they were both raving about them.
I was very full by this point but there was no way that I was missing dessert after seeing the impressive dessert fridge when we walked in.
The Tiramisu, St Honore cake, Salted Chocolate torte & peanut butter cheesecake all came in MASSIVE portions – we could have shared one between the four of us. I’m glad we didn’t though because we got to try so much deliciousness.
On our final day we headed back towards Belfast & spent some time wandering around the shops. I picked up a lovely ring in Avoca made by a local designer called Elephant Juice that is made out of a spoon – check out her website.
We had a grand weekend & were very sad to be leaving but I’ve got a feeling that we’ll be doing more Ireland exploring soon.