Nestled in this attractive village near Strangford Lough is a restaurant with one of Northern Ireland's brightest prospects at the helm.
Back from nearly a decade working in some of the best restaurants in London, chef Will Brown has brought his considerable talent and a combination of classic skills and modern cooking techniques to transform this long established family business.
Culinary skill and creativity are both outstanding, especially when combined with a great use of seasonal local ingredients. From Clandeboye Estate pigeon and Lissara chicken, to Glenarm salmon, Dexter beef and Gloucester Old Spot pork, the menu is packed full of local and speciality produce, with an emphasis on using every part of an ingredient on the plate.
Stand out dishes could include a starter of Clandeboye Estate wood pigeon which brings together a number of current themes in great colour, texture and flavour combinations (heritage pickled carrots, nibbed coco, ginger bread, quail egg, carrot and orange espuma, orange vinaigrette).
Similarly a richly flavoured main course of Lissara duck breast cooked in hay - a technique which may sound too trendy for its own good but actually works very well - which is given real depth by the accompanying croustillant of duck leg, and supporting characters of caramelised Roscoff onion, braised red cabbage, cherries, and jus gras; sophisticated and exquisitely presented, yet earthy too, this is as good a dish as you'll find on any menu in the country.
Unlike many other restaurants in the region, there's an emphasis on quality desserts that go beyond the usual suspects to be found on every menu. A chocolate plate, for example is a masterful dessert with a mix of foams, 'soils' and decadent chocolate. There are bold flavours on every plate, but managed so skilfully that they all work well together.
The wine list is limited but well chosen and a highlight is the service: friendly staff know their menu – explaining each dish in detail dish and able to answer any questions asked of them.
This is is not an inexpensive place to dine but, given the quality of the food, skilful cooking and attention to detail, the £45 Tasting Menu in particular is good value, especially as it includes not only a fine three course meal, but also all the trimmings - very good breads, an amuse bouche, a pre-dessert, cheese and petit fours.
There is a sense that this is a restaurant that's building up to make a real impact on the Northern Ireland dining scene when the refurbishment is complete - and we look forward to that with keen anticipation.
Seats 85 (private room, 45). D Thu-Sat, 6.30-9.30. Open all year.
Although, with the exception of recent additions such as flat screen television, the rooms are somewhat dated - as are the en-suite bathrooms - they are a good size and well maintained. Upsides include good lighting (a rarity worth mentioning) broadband and, most importantly, comfortable beds - so you should be sure of a good night's sleep.
And a good breakfast will start your day right too, with quality sausages and bacon especially noteworthy.
But the most outstanding feature of the Schoolhouse, in both the restaurant and accommodation, is the genuine hospitality. From the warm welcome on arrival - perhaps with the offer to light a fire on a chilly evening - to the favour of Abernethy Butter Fudge from nearby Dromara in your room, the small touches and friendliness of everyone towards guests makes this a place people want to return to.