I have mixed feelings about this review as my husband and I had a lovely experience staying in the Salty Dog but our meal was pretty bad. So I'll try and break it down into sections:
- The best thing was the service. Great relaxed atmosphere created by the waiting staff but particularly the bar staff. After our meal we sat at the bar and ordered cocktails and had great banter with the bar staff who were very knowledgable and clearly enjoying making cocktails and interacting with guests. So that went a long way to contirbuting to how great a night we had.
- I also like the room. We got upgraded to a Delux Seaview from the Superior seaview I had requested so that was nice. It was spacious and done in an interesting style with dark wood antique furniture that went well with the high ceilings and original features. The bathroom was a bit shabby with peeling wallpaper and a bit of cracked plaster so I would say it needs a bit of attention. It is possible to do the "shabby chic" style while still maintaining a high level of decor throughout.
- Now to the meal: I'm sure the restaurant does the classics quite well - the chowder, burgers, fish and chips all looked great coming out. But we wanted to try the a la carte menu as we like something a bit more creative. The menu read very well - sounded like the dishes had been well thought out with creatvitiy and designed to show off a bit of skill. However, when the food arrived this only made the disappointment even worse. Basically, the problem lay in the execution. I had the worst experience as 2 out of my 3 courses were essentially inedible. I'm not a fussy person and I enjoy challenging dishes but these were just bad. The started of cured salted cod with wild flower salad was awful. Instead of serving the cod as a thinly sliced carpaccio they served chunks of fish that were like putting spoonfuls of salt directly into your mouth. The balance of the dish was just all wrong - a perfectly poached egg yolk on the plate tried to save it but it was fighting a losing battle. I seriously think the chef must have never tasted this dish himself or he would surely know how awful it tastes. My main course was a rack of pork (basically a pork shop) which was well seasoned and well cooked to retain moisture and had a nice serving of sauce and spinach alongside it. But the potato served with it was waxy and left the bad taste of whatever oil it was cooked in. Overall, a decent main though. BUT dessert was another disaster for me. I had the apple tart tatin with flaming sorbet. The tart tatin had a thick, stodgy apple jelly that didn't taste great but with the freshness of the sorbet would have been nice enough on the puff pastry base. However, the waiter then added a shot of something into the bowl and set fire to the whole thing. The flame went out a bit too quickly I think as I was left with a bowl of the strongest, harshest tasting alcohol I've ever had, which all soaked into the pastry at the bottom of the tart and made it impossible to eat. I think this dish also needs reworked.
- Our breakfast the next morning was really lovely though - a nicely done fry up with obviously good quality ingredients and well cooked.
So overall I'd say I wish in hindsight I had booked us into the Boathouse Inn for dinner which is just across the road and apparently has amazing food. then we could have just come to the Salty Dog for drinks and had a lovely evening stay not ruined by poor food. Great for drinking and sleeping but not for dining!
One last point is that when I booked I was asked if I'd like the "special" that gave a flat rate of £150 for dinner and B&B but since the room I wanted only cost £80 for B&B this would have required us to spend £70 on dinner to make it worth our while. As it turns out, there are only a couple of options on the menu that would actually result in you spending that much - one of which is the steak which they actually informed us was not included in the deal! To be honest, they are taking money off people with this deal and I don't like that as a "special" is supposed to save you money, not make you spend more than you would have if you booked separately. I've written to them to ask about this but have had no reply.
Lovely staff, great bar, nice room with very comfy bed, enjoyable brakfast, probably do good pub grub but bad a la carte menu. I'd advise them to scrap the fancy stuff and stick to what they do well!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- An old Victorian townhouse that’s been beautifully transformed into a stunning boutique hotel overlooking Bangor’s Marina and the Irish Sea. A perfect retreat from everyday hustle and bustle. Friendly staff, gorgeous rooms and great food will make your stay a memorable one. Committed to fine local produce, our highly skilled, award winning chefs, offer a real alternative to Belfast’s restaurants. Whether you’re visiting North Down’s attractions or want a memorable Bangor night out – The Salty Dog offers accessible, nostalgic food in a relaxed setting. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Salty Dog Hotel And Bistro
- The Salty Dog Hotel & Bistro Bangor, Northern Ireland