We recently got invited to an exciting pop-up restaurant in Ardara. Alan McHugh whose family run the famous Nancy’s Bar and his husband Geoff Milson are home from Australia and wanted to create a dining experience inspired by their travels and a passion for good food.
B.O.A.T.S restaurant name and theme came about with boats being a common feature of some of the most memorable experiences shared by the couple, one of which was their honeymoon in Sicily last year. A highlight of the honeymoon included a trip to Boats Bar in Syracuse, whose cocktails inspired the drinks menu for the night. Other elements of the evening included each person being given a drinks card with pegs on it, where a peg was removed after each drinks order. This detail came from another boating experience whilst in Vanuata. The nautical theme continued with a stunning underwater scene projected over the ceiling and walls.
The night began in Nancy’s Bar where we enjoyed welcome drinks of An Dulaman Gin. We were escorted from Nancys through the back door, following a candlelit path. The path led to an outdoor staircase, adorned with fairy lights to a renovated barn. Our table was an upcycled Singer Sewing Machine in keeping with the old world vibes and the B.O.A.T.S Spotify playlist https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2yGFLi1KF4aO2aMfxacx9R?si=yQDSauNVRmeOIk6k-ni4-A complimented the whole setting perfectly.
We ordered some Syracuse Coupe Cocktails, a take on the pairs favourite classic cocktail – ‘A Paper Plane’ made with An Dulaman Santa Ana Armada Strength Gin, Aperol, Amaro Montenegro and Lemon Juice. The drinks list had a local theme with all cocktails including either An Dulaman Gin, Silkie Whiskey or Assaranca Vodka. The wine options included a Malbec and an Albarino, two great crowd-pleasers.
The three-course menu contained a variety of options. I settled on the Scallops Ceviche made with An Dulaman Santa Ana Gin, Lime Juice and Organic Pico De Gallo Salsa. This dish was fresh, full of flavour and had lots of zing from the Gin and Lime. For the main course, I had the Fish Stew with Dan’s Seaweed Kombu Cream Sauce and greens on the side. It was a hard choice between the cheeseboard and dessert list so we ordered both for the table and enjoyed a little of each. The Chocolate Mousse with Shortbread Biscuit and the Sticky Toffee Pudding served with Silkie Butterscotch Sauce were delicious. All of the seafood was sourced from Albatross while the meats were sourced from McLoone’s Butchers, both based in Killybegs.
The evening was a real family affair with Alan’s mum having made all the breads and chutneys, his brother and Head Chef of Nancys prepared the Fish Stew and sister Lauren created the branding. Niece Sarah McHugh accompanied Alan in the kitchen as his Sous Chef for the evening.
After enjoying the food, the drinks and the ambience of the night we took the advice of the drinks menu and peg system – “If you find yaself pegless and not yet legless” then make your way to the bar. Remembering the roaring fires in Nancy’s Bar before the meal, we returned for our nightcap, bidding farewell to our lovely hosts of the evening Alan and Geoff.
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