Far from being just a designer outlet pitstop, Linen Hill Kitchen is a dining destination in its own right and a pleasant place to visit, with views of fields from its site at the end of a shopping mall and landscaped free parking.
Open-plan and contemporary, it has floor to ceiling windows letting in plenty of natural light and a nice seating area with magazines to wait in if there is a queue - as there may well be, since the news about the good food served here is well and truly out.
Well known in Northern Irish hospitality circles, co-owners John and Fiona Robinson and chef Shaun Hanna were previously at Canteen at the MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) in Belfast, and their motto is “keep it local”. True to their philosophy, they use as much local artisan produce as possible and also grow herbs, vegetables and salads in their own polytunnel, just five minutes’ drive away.
The main menu is peppered with dishes like scallop risotto, decent beef burgers and chickpea falafel, but they also have unsual choices such as rabbit pasta and daily specials like hake with samphire, which change with the seasons and are always worth trying.
One of the most popular menu items is a ‘small plates’ option, with three costing just £8. Shaun Hanna’s gutsy cooking style allows the flavours and textures of his excellent ingredients to take centre stage and, while artfully arranged, there’s nothing too fussy about the presentation.
Fiona bakes delicious breads and scones in-house which are a hit with shoppers just having a break, and other quick options include charcuterie and cheese boards showcasing local produce.
The children’s menu is good too - buttermilk chicken goujons or battered coley fillets with side salads, rather than the ubiquitous fried chicken and chips - and, perhaps surprisingly, it’s also a good choice for a leisurely meal when the occasion demands.
A small, well selected list of old and new world wines offers exceptional value, with the average bottle price only £12.95 and three options each of red and white by the glass offered at just £2.95. Local craft beers and spirits are available too, but teetotallers and designated drivers will be equally pleased by the in-house Pink Lemonade and Iced Tea.
Offering good service and menu knowledge as well as delicious food, this is a pleasant and hospitable place where you can eat well without breaking the bank. Well worth a visit.