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AA Notable Wine List 2017-18
AA rating

About this rating

Restaurants are awarded from 1 to 5 Rosettes for culinary excellence. One Rosette restaurants are highly recommended in a local area and five Rosettes have reached the pinnacle of culinary excellence at a world class level.

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Ambitious contemporary cooking and river views

AA Inspector

At a glance

Open all year
Vegetarian menu
Tasting menu
Wines by the glass
Wheelchair access
Service charge

If all Galgorm had to shout about were its lavish rooms, cabins and cottages spread through 163 acres of parkland with the River Maine flowing through, it would be a seductive enough proposition. Add in the glossy spa, treatment areas and riverside hot tubs in the Thermal Village, extensive meetings, conference and wedding facilities, a champagne and gin bar, a pub and live entertainment, and you can see why an escape here is on many people’s bucket lists. On the food front, there’s a brasserie and grill in former stables, a relaxed Italian venue, and the enticing prospect of an afternoon tea blowout in the elegant conservatory lounge. But gastronomy here gets serious in the aptly named River Room Restaurant, where the floodlit river creates a magical atmosphere after dark, and its floor-to-ceiling windows mean everyone gets the watery views. This is chef Chris Rees’s domain and he sets out his stall with a five-course tasting menu and a thoughtfully composed à la carte designed to showcase his impressive skills, as well as the splendid produce from trusty local suppliers (and as you'd hope with all those acres out there, a kitchen garden chips in with freshly plucked seasonal goodies). Things might get off the blocks with a well-crafted starter of scallops helped along by roast cauliflower, black trompette mushrooms and crispy chicken, or you might take a more robust route in with a cleverly deconstructed ‘pie’ of partridge and foie gras balanced by the sharp notes of quince, pickled turnip and rosemary. Clarity of flavour is key, and while Rees is happy to use tricksy techno ideas when appropriate, the base of it all is solidly grounded in modern European thought, so main courses might see halibut in a pretty-as-a-picture medley with shellfish bisque, carrots and mussels, all pointed up with caramelized fennel. Meat courses, too, show real skill and confidence – perhaps salt-aged beef of fantastic mineral depth combined with frivole mini-cabbage, malt, braised onion and celeriac. As dessert beckons, there’s yet more to admire in the likes of baked caramel tart with roast pear, hazelnut, and buttermilk ice cream, or you might bow out on a pungent note with artisan Irish cheeses ripened to prime condition. Everything, from the excellent home-made bread and inventive canapés to the superb petits fours is crafted with impressive attention to detail. A superlative wine list promises class and desirable drinking from top to bottom.

Also at this location

Opening hours

  • Open all year
  • Days closed: Monday to Tuesday
  • Closed for lunch: Wednesday to Saturday
  • Lunch served from: 1
  • Lunch served until: 4
  • Dinner served from: 6.30
  • Dinner served until: 9.30

Chef

  • Chef(s): Israel Robb, Chris Rees

Food and drink

  • Cuisine style: Modern Irish
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Wines under £30: 40
  • Wines over £30: 220
  • Wines by the glass: 14

Price guide

  • Starter from: £9
  • Main course from: £24
  • Dessert from: £8.50
  • Tasting menu from: £55
  • Service charge
  • Credit cards accepted

Accessibility

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Accessible toilets
  • Assist dogs welcome

Additional information

  • Seats: 50
  • On-site parking available

Getting here

1 mile from Ballymena on A42, between Galgorm and Cullybackey.

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Nearest train station

Ballymena, Cullybackey
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