The Poacher’s Pocket has the winning formula of fab food and service

The Poacher’s Pocket

81 Killinchy Rd, Lisbane

Tel: 028 9754 1589

Originally established in the 1800s as an old coaching inn, it is clear that the Poacher’s Pocket has retained much of that old country charm, both in its interior and its menu.

Nestled off the main road in the village of Lisbane, just a short distance from Comber and the shores of Strangford Lough, the gastropub offers a warm welcome to all with its well-worn stone flooring, wooden panelling, exposed brickwork and a wood-burning stove right in the centre of the restaurant.

The staff were immediately accommodating and sat us almost as soon as we walked through the door, offering drinks, menus and enquiring about any dietary requirements we may have.

The menu offered a variety of meal choices: from pies, burgers and curries to fish, pizza and a full vegetarian selection, but not so much that it felt overwhelming; the options were concise.

We decided to veer off the two- and three-course set menu option for lunch — advertised as an autumn early bird menu — and tried a variety of dishes, starting with the chicken liver pate, with toasted sourdough and a golden raisin relish.

The pate was firm, not too creamy, and there was just enough of everything but not too much so as to overpower the mains.

My guest opted for a firm favourite of all gastropubs — the steak sandwich.

Served on grilled focaccia, with sweet onion jam, battered onion rings and beer fat chips, the classic dish was rich and flavoursome, and the steak was cooked to perfection.

For my mains I decided to try one of the vegetarian options, of which there was plenty to choose from.

The wild mushroom tagliatelle caught my eye from the beginning, and since mushrooms are in season at this time in autumn, I figured why not try some of the finest local cuisine.

I was dubious over the oregano and thyme sauce, whether it might be too overpowering or not, so I asked the server if I could have a little less.

To my surprise he returned with a small ramekin dish of the sauce for me to try — a very thoughtful and personal touch despite a busy lunch service.

I also asked for a side of garlic bread but because the wood-fired oven had not been turned on yet, they compromised and brought me out a side of sourdough with garlic butter, another very nice touch adding to the already attentive service we experienced.

One slight complaint on the mains was that there was perhaps too much food.

Nothing to be marked down for, but it just meant I had some leftovers to take home with me, and I wanted to leave room for dessert.

Finishing off on something sweet, I ordered the warm chocolate brownie which came out swimming in warm chocolate sauce and a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.

Paired with a decaffeinated Americano it was the perfect way to end a delectable winter warming meal.

The Food

Pate £8

Steak sandwich £18.50

Mushroom tagliatelle £15

Chocolate brownie £6.50

Tea £2.50

Decaff Americano £3

Lemonade £2

Total £55.50

The Rating

Service ****

Food ****

Decor ****

Vegetarian ****

Belfast Telegraph