A few weeks back we were invited to enjoy a gourmet wine evening at the River Room in the Galgorm Resort & Spa. The wine evening was hosted by Robb Brothers Wine Merchants from Craigavon, a company that supply wine to many of Northern Ireland’s top eateries.
We had eaten in the River Room on our last visit to the Galgorm (you can read about that here), so we were certainly looking forward to another visit to the restaurant.
The River Room Restaurant is one of only four restaurants in Northern Ireland to achieve the 3 AA Rosette status (along with EIPIC and Ox in Belfast, and the Catalina Restaurant at Lough Erne Resort in Fermanagh).
It’s certainly in good company here is far as NI restaurants go, so we knew we were in for an evening of top-quality food, and this was evident from the flavoursome canapes we got before the meal started.
Canape and Wine Reception to Begin
The evening started with a canape and wine reception in the conservatory which looks over the river at that runs through the grounds of the Galgorm Resort & Spa. A great spot to begin an evening of fine dining.
There were two canapes on offer – sea trout with a cucumber gel and horse radish shavings on a squid ink tuile, and a black pudding bon bon. These were paired with a Henri Champliau Crémant de Bourgogne Rose from France.
The two canapes were wonderfully tasty, with the sea trout in particular proving a hit with both of us.
The Crémant wine is a sparkling wine that is made all over France but not in the Champagne region, and we have to say it was incredible. A real fruity but light sparkling wine, we could have sat drinking it all night, but we had an evening of great food ahead of us, so on we went to the River Room.
A Scallop Delight
We’re both huge fans of scallops but they’re not something we get to enjoy too often. Unfortunately, they don’t be on too many menus across NI (or at least the eateries we go to), but when cooked right, they are hard to look past. These scallops were cooked to absolute perfection, and we don’t say that lightly.
This was an INCREDIBLE plate of food.
Absolutely bursting with flavor from the bisque, with the fennel and seaweed adding another element to the dish. We’d have been more than happy with a big bowl of scallops and a jug of the bisque!
This dish was paired with a Peter Lehmann ‘Layers’ White Wine from Australia, and it was probably our favourite wine of the evening. Went wonderfully well with the scallop and bisque, and was just so refreshing. A great start to the evening.
Smoked Veal and Fregola
Next up was smoked veal, and with the menu describing it as smoked veal, turnip, black garlic and fregola, it’s fair to say we didn’t know what to expect.
This was our first time tasting fregola, and the smoked veal was also a fist as it was served carpaccio style. While carpaccio isn’t something we would tend to order from the menu, this dish was superb. As was the order of the evening, it was absolutely packed with flavour, with the fregola adding a crispy texture similar to that of rice krispies, which really enhanced the dish.
The smoked veal though was the star of this dish, with the turnip pieces and black garlic puree perfectly complementing it. Another great dish. This veal dish was paired with a red wine – Bricco dei Guazzi Albarossa from Italy.
Two down, three to go. Next up, monkfish!
Monkfish and Brown Butter
Now it was time for the fish course, and in between the courses, Charles Robb from Robb Brothers Wine gave an introduction to the wine that we would be enjoying with the upcoming course.
The wine for the fish course was a Chardonnay from California (La Crema Monterey), which had Charles sharing some tales of his travels to California. An area that is famed for the quality of its wine, many consider California to have some of the best chardonnay’s on the planet, and Charles was certainly in agreement.
So with the wine introduced, it was over the food, and the monkfish did not disappoint. Another exquisite plate of food, the monkfish was served with mushrooms, celeriac and a brown butter sauce. The combination of celeriac and mushroom provided some earthy undertones to the dish but it perfectly complemented the monkfish, which was first-class.
Three courses in and it was fair to say we were more than impressed. Everything that hit the table, whether on a plate or in a glass, was absolutely top drawer. Next up was the main event – the duck.
Main Course – A Duck Celebration
Duck, foie gras, treacle, apple, parsnip. That was the description on the menu. Five ingredients but what a combination, and we knew we were in for a treat. Yet again, we wouldn’t be disappointed.
The duck was served pink and absolutely bursting with flavour thanks to the wonderful glaze that it had been finished in. Served with slices of apple, a crumbed parsnip, parsnip puree and foie gras, along with a wonderful jus, this was another phenomenal piece of cooking.
I’m actually salivating as I write this just think back. Every single mouthful was packed with flavour.
The duck was paired with a Spanish Rioja (Muga Rioja Reserva) and it just worked so well. The fruity notes of the wine worked so well – Charles had really done a great job with the wine pairing throughout this meal. First-class all the way!
Final Course – Caramel Tart
When we saw the menu at the start of the night and caramel tart was the final course, we just knew it was going to be a great evening. Four courses down, and with the food we had enjoyed, we couldn’t wait for this course, even if it did signal the end to the meal.
Paired with a Sauvignon Blanc dessert wine from New Zealand (The Ned Noble), the caramel tart was just the perfect size for our final course. It was also wonderfully balanced thanks to the buttermilk sorbet, while the tart itself was a perfect end to the meal.
Where do we begin.
Hands down this was one of the finest pieces of cooking we have enjoyed in a very long time, and one that was right up there with the best food we have ever enjoyed.
This was our second time dining in the River Room, and both experiences have been first-class. It’s easy to see why it’s up there with the very best that Northern Ireland has to offer when it comes to dining experiences.
Our evening ended with a selection of petit fours – an apricot macaron, a passion fruit gel and a salted caramel chocolate bomb. As you can imagine, these really hit the spot, and as we finished our dessert wine, we just sat back and remarked on what a wonderful evening it had been.
Upcoming Galgorm Dining Events
The Galgorm Resort & Spa host several different dining experiences across the year, and the next gourmet evening will be a festive event as it takes place on Thursday 12th December. You can learn more about the event here.
If it’s anything like this, it promises to be a memorable evening. We hope to get along once again, so if you’re reading this and plan to go, maybe we’ll see you there.
Until next time, thank you for reading.
Helen, Nial and Lewis.
**We were invited as guests of the Galgorm Resort & Spa to dine at this gourmet wine evening. The thoughts expressed in the above article are entirely our own.**