Last year we visited Bartali on its opening night and we loved it. Sister restaurant of Coppi and Il Pirata, we knew what we were getting: beautiful Chichetti and Italian inspired dishes.  We decided to book Bartali for the night we arrived back home this year but a few days before we headed home we discovered there would be a new chef and a new concept at Bartali.  I have to admit I was sceptical. I loved it as it had been when we first went. Local food with an Australian twist  didn’t appeal to me as much but there has been quite a build up to new chef Dean Coppard arriving and he’s award winning.  The menu is very different to what it once was. A more traditional set up of starters, mains and desserts with a few daily specials.  Much of the menu was a more Gastropub affair but with local seafood here and there.

I was relieved that they had included local seafood and chose the crab brûlée to start.  This was really tasty but temperature of the dish confused me a little, neither hot nor cold, but I can’t deny the flavour was excellent. In particular  in the tomatoey tapenade on the side.

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Mr Frivolitea had the Thai chilli chicken starter. A tasty dish, nothing unusual about it but a flavoursome dressing.  Mr Frivolitea did say he was surprised it  was battered but I did have to remind him we were back in Northern Ireland!

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For main course, Mr Frivolitea had the North Coast open fish pie.  This was a beautiful looking dish,  rich but generous in local fish. The mackerel fillets in particular were a great addition  but I’m not sure it needed the puff pastry top alongside the whipped potatoes.

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I chose the special, local half lobster thermidor with chips and I’m so glad I did. It was absolutely delicious and looked stunning on the plate.

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I hope Bartali, as they develop the new menus, move away from having too much of the burger and steak style dishes and  do more of the local seafood and other local produce such as Broughgammon goat for example.    On our visit the signs were good, they can cook and present this food really well. I hope they can be brave enough to do more of the style of dishes we chose from the menu.

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