Last weekend, as a birthday treat pour moi, hubby and I stayed at Newforge House, a family run country house about a 30 minute drive from Belfast in the village of Magheralin. Originally his plan was to take me to the Merchant Hotel, a luxurious 5 star hotel in Belfast city centre, but I had my heart set on this place. I had heard good reports about it and in my quest to venture to places new, I thought this might be more to my taste. It did not disappoint.
As we drove up the driveway, we were greeted by the sight of this beautiful, ivy clad house complete with sash windows and Georgian entrance. I was instantly in my element ! After checking in, we were shown to our room. The house has 6 individually styled rooms and we were staying in the Pickering room – tastefully decorated, full of period charm and detail and with a spacious, well appointed bathroom (and a generous supply of White Company toiletries I was quick to notice !)
After a quick freshen up and change for dinner, we headed down to the lounge for a pre dinner drink and to explore the house a little bit more, taking in the architectural details, the antique furniture and the country charm.
A strong emphasis is placed on serving local produce. So after hubby had enjoyed a McGraths Irish Ale brewed just down the road in Craigavon, it was time to sit ourselves down in the dining room as, by this stage, we were feeling rather hungry !
To start us off, we were treated to some freshly home made wheaten bread which went down very well with a drop of local hand churned Abernethy Butter from Dromara village, again just a few miles away. You can even find this butter at Fortnum and Masons.
As a starter I opted for a refreshing nectarine, basil and mozzarella salad while hubby chose tomato and chilli soup. We both opted for steaks for our main course, perfectly cooked and served on a bed of green vegetables, grown in the garden next to the house. Having a sweet tooth, I treated myself to a melt in your mouth cheesecake for dessert while hubby chose the cheese board. At this point the chef John came out to say hello and to give us the names of the cheeses, again all locally sourced from around Ireland (including Corleggy cheese , loved the name) All in all, a delightful culinary experience in a relaxing setting, washed down with a very good bottle of wine.
Next morning, as if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we indulged in a traditional Ulster fry (including locally sourced Moyallon bacon and eggs from the free range chickens in the garden) before taking a walk around the grounds. I really enjoyed the flowers, the ornate gates, the vegetable plot and most of all, stopping to say hello to the chickens. After all, they had done such a good job in providing us with tasty eggs for breakfast. Very friendly they were too !
All in all, a wonderful birthday treat. I couldn’t have asked for more. Belfast is experiencing a bit of a hotel boom at the moment, which is great to see, but for me it was lovely to get off the beaten track and discover this hidden gem in the country. We will definitely return. And for anyone travelling to Northern Ireland and looking to explore what our country has to offer, this is well worth a look – for its great food, country charm, central location and personal service. You can find out more at the Newforge House website.
ps they didn’t sponsor me to say this, I simply loved the place !