The Holestone Ballymoney restaurant review: The best place to eat in bustling Co Antrim

You can’t keep a good man or woman. After two years of hospitality hell, restaurateurs have resurfaced, blinking in the sunlight and peering into empty kitchens and dining rooms.

hey may also be understaffed, but somehow the restaurants are working again. And they may also offer reduced service and opening hours, but they are back.

Jonathan and Chloe Clarke are among those keeping the stove on during shutdowns in their food trailer.

Street food has been the mainstay of many fine restaurants that have had to hit the road to find business. Clarkes’ Holestone Truck recently appeared in the new Food Truck Festival at Down Royal Racecourse, one of 18 offering a huge range of food including burgers, crab rolls, pizza, scallops, tacos, noodles and more.

Their truck food was so good that I promised to visit the mothership of the same name which is firmly anchored in the main street of Ballymoney.

Ballymoney also seems to have come back to life lately. Walking from a town car park to lunch in the Holestone a few days ago revealed its bustling heart, where heaps of customers rushed through heavy traffic towards a butcher and the Winsome Lady.

Nestled among these shops is the Holestone, formerly Mollies. A cheerful, comfortable and welcoming place, the staff at Holestone are young with a touch of professionalism about them. And in the kitchen, chef Jonathan himself.

I’m with a man of impeccable taste and modest appetite.

That leaves us all the more keen on the daily specials, which include scallops “just landed in Ballycastle this morning” served with black pudding sweets, chorizo ​​aioli and shredded cauliflower.

A moment of unexpected pleasure ensues. I knew Chef Clarke was good, but it could rival the best in Dublin or Belfast. The plate is generous with three large scallops, each perfectly roasted with the slightest crust and that deep sweetness inside.

The delicate flavor of the scallop is not overshadowed by the chorizo ​​and the added dimension of the chewy, salty black pudding balls in a crispy crumb, the subtle flavor of the blanched cabbage leaves and the heat of the aioli combine to make this starter quite endearing.

Now I wonder how this can be tracked and a large iron skillet of sizzling onions under a mound of thinly shredded chicken smothered in tobacco onions does just fine.

Sinus-busting pepper sauce ties it all together in a pub presentation that calls for a chilled lager which is unfortunately replaced by sparkling water.

On the other side of the table is a bowl of nachos. They’re usually snacks, but in the Holestone, where they’re considered a signature dish, homemade nachos are a meal in themselves served with chili beef, fresh guacamole and a spicy salsa. The man eats them with a knife and fork as if to emphasize their new position of eating substance.

The Holestone is a place of fusion. There are burgers, fish and chips, Ewing’s shrimp prepared with salt and chili, 24-hour braised boneless spare ribs, goujons and even vegan pizzas.

Ballymoney families don’t have to travel far to enjoy a wide variety of dishes.

It’s a bar with a restaurant and the quality here is unusually and very unexpected.

It deserves your attention and is worth making the trip to Ballymoney just to eat there.

The law project

Scallops: £9.50
Nachos: £7
Sizzling Chicken: £19
Mash: £3.50
Sparkling water: £2.60
Total: £41.60

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