48 Lisburn Street
Hillsborough, BT26 6AB
Phone: 028 9268 3009
The Parsons Nose has been a firm favourite for the well healed of Lisburn borough for many years. Danny Miller and his team have kindled an excellent reputation for producing wholesome seasonal food focusing on local ingredients. It has always been fairly consistent in its offerings and I can't remember ever leaving feeling underwhelmed whilst never feeling the need to wax lyrical about the experience. However, after hearing about a substantial investment to reignite the restaurant and kitchen, which included a wood-fired oven, I decided to check it out and see if it was radically different or the same old with a lick of paint.
To begin this review is a long time in writing mainly as the first visit was fairly average and it took me a couple of months to revisit. I really want to love the Parsons Nose and it was only fair to give it another go before publishing this post. It must also be stated that the first occasion was an impulsive hungover decision after spending an hour supervising Teddy in Hillsborough play park, make of that what you will. So what was a nondescript Sunday afternoon we took the short dander from the park round to the Parsons Nose to try and find something that would make my head a better place to be.
For main course I stupidly, stupidly, stupidly went for the dry aged Irish beef burger. A decision made by the hangover. Don't get me wrong I adore a good burger but with more worthy options it was a poor choice enhanced by the fact that I didn't even order a sauce or extra toppings. The hangover was winning. The burger was overcooked and slightly dry, the patty was too big for the bun with a sorry looking pickle placed on top crying out to be accompanied by some sliced cheese and a bowl of pepper sauce. To be fair, bar the slightly overcooked burger this was all my fault. The chips were great, fashionably cooked 3 times but again a bowl of pepper sauce would have taken them to another level.
So all in all the first visit was fairly average but I needed to return in a better state of mind.
The second visit, a few weeks later was a case of making a hangover rather than curing it. A 'lads' night out with Guinness and pizza away from the big smoke. On this occasion, I did what should have been done on the first occasion and ordered something from the wood-fired oven. If you follow this blog you will know I love cooking with fire and wood-fired ovens produce the best pizza's in my opinion. So after a couple of Guinness standing at the welcoming bar at the front of the restaurant we were led to our seats towards the refurbished rear of the building. A bright and open room that was buzzing with Saturday ambience every restaurant craves.
Scanning through the pizza section of the menu it didn't take me long to decide on the 'Spicy', Chorizo, Pepperoni, Mozzarella and Chilli. Perfect. The perfect pizza for me is a combination of American and Neapolitan styles combining a slightly crispy crust leading to a doughy, chewy bite. The tomato sauce needs to be tangy with a hint of garlic and the quantity needs be such that it coats the base without turning it into a tomato soup pizza (the problem I have with traditional Neapolitan pizzas). The cheese has to be unprocessed mozzarella with the excess water squeezed out before application to prevent a soggy base. And last but not least it preferably needs to be cooked in a wood-fired oven to create dark spots a' la Neapolitan style adding another layer of flavour. After these factors are correct then what you put on top is only a secondary consideration.
Put simply the Parson's Nose have nailed it. I presume they trialled many different dough combinations to get the pizza as good as this. The sauce was perfect with regard to quantity and taste, presumingly using San Marzano and the cheese didn't seep any dreaded liquid onto the base. The chorizo and pepperoni added saltiness with the fresh cut red chillies providing a bit of heat. I can honestly say it was a faultless pizza pie up there with the artisanal Wood Fired Pizza Co.
I love what the owners have done with the restaurant in both providing added variance to the menu as well as completely overhauling the feel of the building. Put frankly the restaurant is a nice place to spend time and I look forward to sussing out more favourite dishes to add to the top class pizza.