On a quiet country road just outside the pretty village of Moira, the popular Tannery Bar & Restaurant is now run by the Patterson family, who are already well known in the area as proprietors of two other much-loved County Down pub/restaurants, The Plough Inn in Hillsborough and The Pheasant at Annahilt.
The black and white exterior has lots of windows and is well lit up and, as would be expected by anyone familiar with their other establishments, the Pattersons have refurbished The Tannery with discernment – the decor is colourful, modern, elegant, tasteful and varied throughout this interesting new venture, which now includes a bar/ restaurant, bistro and cocktail bar.
Predictably, it has been a huge success from the outset – so much so, in fact, that it is advisable to book a table for the downstairs restaurant, and be prepared to wait in the contemporary bar (where booths create an intimate feel) or cocktail bar until a table in the upstairs bistro becomes available, as crowds come from far and wide to sample the buzz and bistro fare.
Very new and modern – funky in places, always something to catch the eye - the bistro is comfortable but not in the cosy style, with colourful fabric-covered bench seating and quite closely packed polished wooden tables which sport simple settings, tea candles and a wine list in stand up perspex holder.
The various areas have different colours and themes - the pictures on the walls where the Guide enjoyed a recent meal, for example, were themed around fish.
Menus offer a tempting array of starters and an impressive main course selection including some house specials. Steaks are very popular and fresh seasonal and local produce features strongly, in dishes such as Lough Neagh brown trout with pollen smokies and pickled ginger, perhaps followed by local hill grazed lamb with a cashew pesto crust, sweet potato gratin broad bean feta and pea shoots, all served in healthy portion sizes and stylishly presented in varying shapes and sizes of white crockery.
The promise of colourful, appetising food follows through with good cooking and plenty of flavour, clearly pleasing the mix of clientele- families, couples, the young and not so young.
A short dessert menu – maybe a choice of five – makes up in deliciousness anything it may lack in length: a dark, soft, smooth, rich Chocolate Nemesis (made in The Plough) contrasts beautifully with coconut ice-cream, for example, and in the Guide’s experience the Pecan Pie is equally good.
The wine list offers a limited selection modestly priced (about 22, £13-£20) red and white and rosé wines, predominantly from Spain, Chile, South Africa and Australia – and wines by the glass are available in two measures, 175ml or 250ml.
Together with good food and good value, you’ll also get good service here - very friendly, smartly black-uniformed waiting staff (all local) work quickly and without fuss, bringing order as they go – there’s a nice happy atmosphere with lots of buzz in background. It’s not hard to see why this place is so popular.