Whether you stop for a bite in the welcoming bar or go for a full meal, you’ll find that the kitchen is at the heart of this delightful small hotel and restaurant in the attractive village of Castledawson.
The Inn came into new ownership in 2009 and, following refurbishment - a stylish modern take on traditional themes, with comfortable leather upholstered furniture and some striking contemporary wallpaper – settled into the business of becoming a destination for guests who appreciate good food, genuine hospitality and the special ambience of a small boutique hotel which takes pride in its history.
The village was founded in 1710 by Joshua Dawson, Chief Secretary for Ireland at the time, and its ‘castle’ was actually his manor house.
Today, visitors enjoy soaking up the atmosphere at The Inn, which overlooks the River Moyola (popular with fisherfolk) and is built on the site of the original Castledawson House - you can go back through three centuries of village life here, through a display of historical photographs, letters and other items collected to celebrate the tri-centenrary.
Head Chef Roland Graham (formerly of Belfast’s Merchant Hotel) and his team offer a range of changing menus throughout the day.
Following the all day snacks and bistro fare, an early dinner menu offers great value and then a fine dining à la carte menu is offered each evening in the lovely tiered light-filled restaurant. With a huge arched window looking over the garden to the River Moyola and crisp white linen, this is also a lovely spot to enjoy a Sunday lunch that offers both traditional and less usual choices.
The pristine table settings are sure to impress and well balanced (and well priced) menus showcase quality produce (organic if possible and mainly local, or at least from Northern Ireland) in skilfully prepared and presented dishes.
Credited foods might include famed smoked salmon from Ewing’s of Belfast, Kilkeel scallops, local Hereford beef and Fivemiletown Creamery Mature Irish Cheddar.
Typically, you might try a creamy Haddock Chowder, which is presented with a brunoise of vegetables and a portion of steamed haddock in the centre of the bowl, with the chowder then poured over it at the table - a fitting start to any meal.
Then a favourite main course is pink roasted Rack of Irish Lamb, which might be served with Herb Crushed Potatoes Baby Carrots, Spring Cabbage, Caramelised Shallots & Port Wine Sauce – not too fussy, but a dish with a sense of occasion.
Desserts, such as a rich and perfectly cooked Apricot & Custard Tart Topped with Toasted Almond, are a high point - and you won’t be hurried as helpful and well trained staff will ensure you can relax and enjoy your meal.
Seats 80. Food served all day Mon-Sat, from 11.30am; Afternoon Tea 3-5, £8.50; L & Early D Mon-Thu 12-7, Fri & Sat 12-5; Sun L 12-4. 2/3 course early D/Sun L £13.00/£16.50, otherwise à la carte.
This is a true inn, offering not only food and drink but also a (very relaxing) place to lay your head: there are twelve chic contemporary bedrooms with river or courtyard views, including a suite with its own riverside balcony.
With a spa next door, and golf, equestrian and fishing all nearby and attractions such as the Giant’s Causeway only a short drive away, this is a very appealing place for a short break - and its convenience to both Belfast and Derry make it an attractive option for business guests too.