My good friends the Rankin’s called into the office to discuss a piece of furniture and having finalised the design requirements, plus me having slipped a chair in to the equation, they invited me to join them for lunch. The idea was to test the newly opened Newry Bypass and get to Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant in record time. This of course did not take into account the erroneous reporting that the last section of the bypass had opened at eleven o’clock! It hadn’t! Looking across to the northbound carriageway it seemed that this had been opened at about 13.03.
On previous trips down the Carlingford road I do not recall getting past the Ballymascanlon Hotel so was amazed to be introduced to the Irish answer to the “Traditional Irish Pub” a couple of kilometres further down the road.
Arriving in the car park at first glance Fitzpatrick’s appears as the picture book example of the rural farmhouse style building with whitewashed walls and slate roof. The adjoining courtyard boasts a plethora of flowers growing in pots which are set in anything from bicycle baskets to a van engine compartment. Of course there is also the regulation horse and donkey in the adjacent paddock. I actually thought that the donkey was a cast model until it brayed!
Once one enters it appears as the Irish answer to the ubiquitous “Irish Bar”, at least one of which is to be found in every major city round the world. Every available inch of wall, cill and beam sports period adverts, pictures and artefacts.
The amazing thing is that it works without ever seeming to be “over the top”.
We were taken to our table by a young lady who was certainly not indigenous but who was definitely very well trained. She took our drinks order and provided us with menus. At first glance it occurred to me that anyone who can include “Almost famous French Onion Soup” and “Now Famous Chicken Wings” as offerings is certainly worth a try.
Helen and I picked the Whole Baked Sea Trout on seared courgettes with Hollandaise sauce, with chips on the side, from the “day’s specials” menu whilst Trevor went for the sausages with champ and onion gravy.
The fish was cooked to perfection, just firm, and the chips were golden crisp; how do they do that? The courgettes were melt in the mouth and the Hollandaise sauce complemented it all perfectly. Not only that but there was a serving of vegetables as well: cauliflower, broccoli, mange tout, carrots and green beans. All of which managed to be cooked “just so”.
Trevor report his sausage ring to be excellent and the same for the champ and gravy.
We finished up with a couple of standard coffees.
The Gents loo is also worth a mention as it resembles a Victorian apothecary’s. Beware the hand dryers which are designed to remove the skin along with the water!
We returned to Belfast via the now opened Newry Bypass. Unfortunately no-one was offering gifts for being one of the first 1000 cars.
Having said this there were lots of police out with little books and those flashy black things they are so fond of pointing at people.
No doubt we will revisit this excellent hostlery at some point in the not too distant future.