Lisa Rice visits Holywood’s latest addition to its thriving restaurant scene.
Having just relocated to Holywood for work, it didn’t take long before I heard about the new eatery in the town centre offering delicious seafood and a potential new hot spot for lunching and dining with clients and colleagues. The Anchorage restaurant, opened last month and is fast becoming one of the most popular eateries in the town. With an extensive seafood menu sourced locally, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to go along so soon and sample it for myself. Having booked in on a Monday evening at 6.30pm, I wasn’t expecting much by way of atmosphere, but after being greeted by super friendly and attentive staff, I was surprised to see four other tables occupied with a mixture of couples, families and a group of friends – ‘We’ve been steadily busy every evening since we opened,’ Stephen the manager tells me and it’s not hard to understand why.
The Restaurant has a modern and sophisticated bistro décor. It’s bright, spacious and comfortable. As I waited for my friend, I was given a drinks menu to peruse and was very pleased with the offerings. As a white wine drinker, I was delighted to find an extensive white wine list with over 12 to choose from, most of which were available by the glass as well as bottle. Most of them also came with handy recommendations of which dish on the menu best suited each wine. After I’d been served a delicious glass of sauvignon, I inspected the menu, noted the reasonable prices and attempted to choose my seafood feast.
Starters consisted of smoked cod and salmon fishcakes, mussels, pan fried scallops, razor clams and local crab – a fantastic list of options for the seafood fan with each one sounding more delicious than the other! My companion and I opted for the seafood platter to share, offering a little bit of everything and also apparently the perfect accompaniment to our wine of choice, so our menu tells us!
The platter was beautifully presented on a tripod stand and contained fresh oysters, salt and chilli baby squid, smoked mackerel pate served on lettuce and delicious fresh house breads with dipping oils. The platter was a delicious mix of seafood treats; the oysters were fresh from the boat and the salt and chilli squid was cooked to perfection – soft, mouth-wateringly moreish, and with just the right amount of chilli. There was more than enough to share between the two of us, but with my seafood appetite well and truly whetted, I was ready for my main course.
The main menu offered an extensive selection of fish (as well as the obligatory sirloin steak for those who aren’t as fanatical about seafood). I found it difficult to choose between the pan fried monkfish served with petit pois and crispy leeks, the veggie option of goats’ cheese mousse with asparagus and pickled beetroot salad and the rainbow trout with surfer clam linguine. Salmon, tuna steak and haddock were also on the menu – an extensive menu indeed making it almost impossible to choose. In the end, I opted for the sea bass with herb crush potatoes and and boy am I glad I did. The sea bass was a thick lump of tender white meat, cooked to absolute perfection with a sufficient amount of sauce with a zesty aroma and bursting with flavour. The portion size was very generous and I was only disappointed that I was unable to finish it.
My friend opted for the sirloin steak and requested it medium rare – although it was presented to her more on the medium side, she commented that it was tender, juicy, and perfectly seasoned. Again, it was a generously sized portion and we both resorted to unbuttoning our top buttons at the end of our meal and sat back, happily relaxed, satisfied and a little sleepy.
Despite a very tempting dessert menu which consisted of treats such as lavender infused hot chocolate fondant with strawberry and balsamic sorbet, a strawberry and champagne jelly, toasted fennel seed crème brulee with zesty puff pastry sticks and a lemon tart as well as my own personal favourite – a cheese board complete with local Irish cheeses – unable to eat another bite, we reluctantly settled for a liqueur coffee to help wash down our meal.
With a widespread selection of locally caught seafood, combined with warm and friendly (but not overbearing) staff, complete with relaxing décor and excellent value for money, the Anchorage is a real treat for seafood fans and a brilliant addition to the Holywood restaurant scene. I’m looking forward to returning for a mid-week lunch treat.
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Review by Lisa Rice
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2 Sullivan Place