REVIEW: Sleepy Hollow

Classically comforting yet uniquely intriguing, the paradox that is, Sleepy Hollow. Hidden on the outskirts of Belfast Sleep Hollow can be found on the Kiln Road just off Corrs Corner round-a-bout Newtownabbey.

Under the Patronage of Chef Paul Dalrymple, Sleepy Hollow steps out of the hedgerows to take centre stage among the elite restaurants our province has to offer.

Set in the surrounds of a converted farmhouse, this establishment is anything but antiquated or traditional. Innovational and original yet grounded in a firm understanding of what makes food great, Chef Paul takes what we understand of Irish cooking and perfects it for the ‘now’ palate.

Before I even begin on the delights we had, I have to confess that I have been here before, many times. Whenever my wife wants to reward me for behaving in a tolerable manor she takes me here.
Miriam and I where last at Sleepy Hollow about a month ago, I think that’s the last time she found me tolerable, and it was a wonderful evening.

The décor and ambiance of Sleepy Hollow is the perfect canvas for a great night out. Wether dinning for two or a celebration with a group of friends, the atmosphere at this County Antrim gem is a course on the menu in itself.

I started the evening with Pan Seared King Scallop, Clams and Prawn broth with Leek, Pea and Broadbean, Rye Bread Croutons and spiced Garlic and Saffron dressing. The hues of pink rose scallops blushing on the plate had me salivating immediately.

They were cooked masterfully and the sweetness of seafood flesh tore easily with each eager bite. The Scallops were divine and surrounded by a throng of angelic shellfish of clams and prawns in a wholesome broth. The pain of the finite experience in the presence of infinite bliss.

Miriam started with her all time favourite: Fivemiletown Goats cheese, Cranberry and Hazelnut Beetroot relish, gel and carpachio with a Sunflower oil biscuit and Honeycomb. The soft Goats cheese was the thing of dreams.

A white cloud, soft in texture, seasoning the palate with a creamy saltiness pure in taste. The cranberry and hazelnut beetroot relish was a trinitarian taste of sweetness that overwhelmed the senses yet, when taken with the cheese was a blend of wonderment.

The honeycomb element was a revelation, spiked through the melody of goat cheese and the relish was a staccato of almost bitter sweet punctuation that took the dish into the heavenly realm.
Miriam continued the evening with the Steak of the Day, which was the hanger steak from memory.

Served with chunky chips and the best onion chutney I have every tasted. I fell in love with the chutney so much so that I actually had to ask Chef Paul for the recipe. He graciously obliged me with the ingredients but I know I could never, given an eternity of training and time, replicate this.

That being said, in its greatness the chutney was only the supporting role to a beautiful cut of beef caressed by the touch of a true master. Even though Miriam asked for it well done, heresy in my humble opinion as all steak should be medium rare, Chefs attention to detail in the steak presentation was flawless.

Platter of Rare breed Pork. Signature dish. Loin, crispy Belly, Ham hock and Gracehill Black pudding. Smoked bacon and Savoy Roulade, served with Apple, Celeriac and Wholegrain mustard. Just take a moment.
This is why I love food.

Care and attention, passion and pride, innovation and seer genius. You will never taste a Platter of Pork like this. The loin of Pork was moist and fell away in the mouth, full of flavour none being lost in the cooking process. The belly, crispy fatty succulent sublime. Ham hock that shredded in salty stranded sumptuous delight.

Every accompanying element from the spicy black pudding to apple and mustard in the potato. Every element was not just there by design but by heavenly decree. Paul Dalrymple you are a genius.
Desert at Sleepy Hollow is a disappointment for me, but only by virtue that it marks the end of the event. But hey, if you’re going out, go out on a bang.

You see at Sleepy Hollow they don’t do things by halves, no they do them in threes. For at the end of the night Chef serves up a selection of tasting deserts that you can choose three of. Sheer sweet delight. And if a sweet desert isn’t your thing go for the cheese board with apple and grape chutney.

I feel deserts should never be spoilt, they are a gift, a surprise you might say, to be opened or discovered by you. But listen to this; Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble, Burnt Cream of the Day, Lemon Pousset, Dark Chocolate with Beetroot Granola Torte, Summer berry Pudding, Sticky Toffee Pudding and my favourite, Treacle Tart with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone.

Honey comb punctuations in the Goats Cheese starter, an Onion Chutney on a parity with a steak and a tasting desert menu fit for the inhabitants of heaven themselves. This is why Sleepy Hollow is among the elite of culinary giants in Ireland. Lift the phone and book now.

Paul McMath

Sleepy Hollow can be found on the Kiln Road, Ballyclare, Newtownabbey. For more go to and keep up to date @SleepyHollowRestaurant on Facebook and @SleepyHollowNI on Twitter.

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