It has took me a while to publish this post as I wanted to try the Ramore again to see if my thoughts had changed. After experiencing a great restaurant I usually review it as soon as I get the chance while fresh in the memory. I also believe that in order to be fair it is important to write about the bad experiences. So with that said I will start by saying I have never had a bad meal at the Ramore. It does most things ok in providing consistency in both the quality of food and usually decent service. I have ate in the Wine Bar many times but this was my first venture to Neptune and Prawn. I was a fan of the old Asian restaurant above the wine bar that Mermaid currently resides, so was expecting more of the same from the venue across the road.
After trying to book a table mid-week I was informed that they only reserve a small number of tables which were all taken so the best thing to do would be to come along and put your name down and wait for a table to come available. No probs. We arrived at around 7.15 to be told that we could be waiting around an hour and a half for a table of four, so we ventured over to the harbour bar for a few drinks. A few pints of stout followed before returning to the restaurant an hour later. The host informed us that the table wasn't ready and said we should go for a drink upstairs to which we obliged.
Another hour passed and we wondered what was happening. After asking the host two more times if we were close to being seated the answer was the same. Our ticket number for the table was 727 and as we stood upstairs in the increasingly busy bar our number was continually neglected. 726,728,729,730,731,732,734. So after a few more Jawbox's (stop putting chunks of honeycomb in gin) we finally got seated 3 hours after we initially arrived.
Now I completely understand if the restaurant was so busy that it genuinely took this length of time to seat us. But we found out this wasn't the case. We had a friend who knew the host and we asked him if he could suss out our situation. He duly informed us that because we had asked about the length of wait that they had deliberately further delayed our table. A great way to encourage repeat business.
The menu was exactly how I imagined. The old classic Ramore favourites with a vast array of Asian dishes mixed in.
To start I opted for the salt and chilli prawns to share. The prawns themselves were fine, nothing too unfamiliar or memorable, apart from the ocean of garlic mayo they were presented on. Regular readers of this blog will know I'm a big fan of garlic mayo but the sheer quantity of the stuff was borderline sickening.
Just look at it.........
Anyway moving on to mains I went for one of my favourite combinations, chicken satay. I think they called it Bang Bang Chicken on the menu, but it was chicken satay in my eyes. The chicken was cooked perfectly, excellently succulent with a limey, peanut flavoured sauce. Oh and more garlic mayo, obviously. I loved the fresh, warmed pitta and the chopped onion and chilli salad provided a welcome crunch to each bite. A great dish that I thoroughly enjoyed.
After our main we didn't hang about for dessert with the initial tedious wait still fresh in the memory. I mentioned at the top of the post I wanted to try the Ramore (The Wine Bar on this occassion) again before posting which I did this past Easter Tuesday. Without going into too much detail my wife had ordered the Penne Chilli Chicken. What arrived could only be described as a bland chicken-less pasta like soup. We asked for the dish to be replaced to which the waiter acknowledged. Soon after the same dish came back with a note from the chef saying he will send out more chicken to which we could add to the dish ourselves. It was only after speaking to the manager that a new dish was prepared and served correctly.
To sum up the Ramore complex is a bit polarizing for me. Good atmosphere but at the same time, a bit of a cattle market with generally decent, well cooked food. But the service is so disappointing it really left a sour taste in the mouth. I believe that in general most people will tolerate average food paired with great service. But on the flip side I don't think the same can be said for the tolerance of great food and poor service. This is after all the hospitality industry and hospitality in my opinion should be top of the list. If you are made to feel welcome at a restaurant they have won more than half the battle to regain your custom. The Ramore complex has done a fantastic job on the North Coast, It's a destination and pretty much has a monopoly in Portrush, the problem is it seems to know it.