Eating Out: The Lighthouse Bistro a place that's at the top of its Game Of Thrones
The Lighthouse Bistro
2 Marine Avenue
028 9337 2447
SINCE its very first episode, nearly a decade ago, Games Of Thrones has been banging on about the fact “winter is coming”. This series, the last one, it finally arrived. Good for winter, but it never had to deal with roadworks just outside Carrickfergus, did it?
We’re on our way to the Lighthouse Bistro in Whitehead for lunch, and we’re cutting it tight. A phone call is made to assure that we’re on our way, as the clock ticks past our table time, and beyond kitchen shutting-up time another one is made, to concede defeat as politely as possibly.
“Sorry, but we’ve been stuck in traffic and would be arriving too late for lunch.”
“Where are you?”
“Two minutes away.”
“It’s grand, honestly, you’ll be fine.”
And we are. Not only that but the voice on the phone, belonging to the friendly, helpful Belinda, greets us dressed as (Googles to identify exactly the right Game Of Thrones character) someone out of Game Of Thrones.
We visit the weekend the final series gets under way, and there’s a themed tasting menu on tonight, but lunchtime diners aren’t missing out, between the costumes and the décor, with the cosy, sleek interior augmented with bits and pieces evoking the series and maps of the locations not far away which Hollywood magic has convinced the world is the magical, mysterious thrilling land of Westeros rather than somewhere on the way to Larne.
The effect is helped by the fact a long table is peopled by members of the Trjegul Reenactment Society – usually doing things Viking-style, but leaning into the fantastic here – courteously storing their battleaxes along with the umbrellas and tying up their dragons on the nearby promenade. Maybe.
There are three lunchtime specials to stretch the theme to breaking point: Cersei’s carrot and feta soup; Jon Snow’s pork belly and mushroom pasta and Sansa’s lemon posset.
There’s also a selection of things on bread, chowder, chicken wings and mussels for £5-£7. For a tenner there are bowls of pasta and stews.
At night, things get dearer but accordingly more substantial, with steaks and lamb chops and bouillabaisse. It’s bring your own, though they do have some good coffee, so you won’t need to leave a takeaway cup full of latte on the table by accident.
Among the breads, all on beautiful pieces of sourdough, is a fresh chicken and avocado number with a zippy lime sour cream, perfect for the sparkling sunshine outside. There’s also one with smoky, fall-apart brisket, a meaty gravy and aioli that doesn’t skimp on the garlic. That one suits the fact that, despite the sun, it’s bloody freezing out there.
At £5 and £6 respectively they seem a little steep at first, but there’s a lot of eating in them and they’ve been put together with thought and attention, especially the beef, which comes with a sharp, sweet, crunchy slaw of cabbage and green pepper.
What makes Jon Snow’s pasta Jon Snow’s pasta, I’ve no idea. Maybe the pig will (two-year-old spoiler alert) come back to life.
Thankfully, it doesn’t and this one definitely didn’t die in vain. Two-finger-wide ribbons of pappardelle, slicked with a sauce creaking in umami punch – tomatoes, the smoky pork, thick slices of deeply flavoured mushroom, slugging it out side by side.
It’s a bowl to keep any winter at bay, or just gently warm up this blowy, nippy spring day by the sea. £10 worth of comforting bearhug. Good garlic bread, too.
The lemon posset and cheesecake are both perfect executions. The posset is rich but cut through with the right amount of acidity. The only thing lacking was maybe a biscuit or two to add some crunch. The cheesecake was superb, tasting as it did fully of both blackberry and, not always a given, cheese. All desserts are £4.50 and, like everything else, great value for the quality.
But the last word should go to the garlic skins. If there’s any other-worldly sorcery going on here it’s in this bowl of crunchy, crispy, airy, buttery, pungent discs of spud. Some were like crisps, some sautéed potatoes, some pommes souffle. They were all amazing and as satisfying a £3 as you’ll ever spend. And as good a lunchtime as you’ll ever spend too, whichever season is coming.
Brisket on sourdough £6
Chicken and avocado on sourdough £5
Garlic skins £3
Pork belly and mushroom pasta £10
Lemon posset £4.50
Blackberry cheesecake £4.50
American x2 £4