Thursday, June 22, 2006

Review - Zio Portrush - Good, but could be even better

ZioPortrushLast night we drove across to Zio Portrush, a bar/restaurant situated on the North Coast between Portrush and Portstewart, about 10m in from the churning sea. (A couple of years ago you'd have known it as "The Plaice", just up the road from the Juniper Hill Caravan Park.)

Arriving about 5.30pm, we went upstairs and were seated in the conservatory area - overlooking the sea. Like nearly all the other parties that arrived at Zio last night, we quickly moved out of the draught to an "inland" table!

Zio's menu has a good range of starters and main courses - chicken dishes, pizzas, salmon, burgers, pasta dishes, as well as the all-day carvery (which remained unused and hidden under tin foil while we were there). Something for most tastes. We didn't stay for deserts so I can't comment on those.

The starters arrived promptly - the olives confirmed as being yummy. The main courses were brought to the table steaming hot, but we did have to chase the side orders of chips. The salmon and penne pasta went down a treat.

Now maybe I should put my hands up and admit to eating quite a lot of pizza when I'm out - and the same couple of sorts of pizza. But Zio Portrush's Quattro Stagioni pizza was disappointing. The whole point about a "four seasons" pizza is that the four toppings (pepperoni, ham, peppers, mushrooms in this case) are each placed in a different quarter of the pizza - thus creating four different tastes as you eat your way around. Zio's chef just mixed the ingredients together. It's less effort for the chef to keep them separate, and a whole lot more pleasant to eat too.

(Side note, but according to the all-knowing Wikipedia - practically more trusted that the Internet Oracle (formerly the Usenet Oracle) - a Pizza Quattro Stagioni is made from mushrooms, artichokes, cooked ham and olives, on top of the mozzarella and tomato on the base. And a Pizza Capricciosa uses the same ingredients, but mixes them up. I missed the taste of the artichokes and olives in the Zio pizza.)

Not wanting to be boring, but now for the what's-it-like-if-you-bring-young-children comment. The default seating area is upstairs - so don't bring a buggy, wheelchair or zimmer. The waitress brought across a wooden high chair without being asked when we arrived, even giving it a quick clean with a spray. No tray on top, but functional.

The baby changing is in the disabled toiliet downstairs where the baby shelf could do with a good wash (I dread to think what was growing at one end), the tiny peddle bin was already overflowing with a couple of nappies, and the hand towel dispenser was empty. Better than nothing, but not ideal.

So to conclude, Zio Portrush was a pleasant early evening venue, and the food was good, but not brilliant. Expect it to fill up with holiday makers and caravaners as the peak season arrives (hopefully along with better weather).

And if you've been to Zio Portrush, please post a comment with your opinions and experiences, good or bad.


Cybez said...

Next you should try "Zio Newtownards".As soon as I entered it I thought with the cheap decor that the prices would be the same. I found the opposite and the prices didn't reflect the quality of the food. At least with the Portrush Zio you had a better start with sitting in "conservatory area - overlooking the sea". The Newtownards one has the local hoods walking past shouting in through the front door.The funniest thing I find about Zio N'ards is they have a couple of small patio tables left out on the street during the day. I'm sure they get in the way of the wheelbarrows pushed out from the next door garden/paint centre.I'm looking forward to your review on Zio Newtownards -go on I dare you.

John Self said...

Am heading up north this weekend and going to book in for 51 Degrees North in Portrush, which someone reliably told me is the best eaterie in town. Tried to get in once before ad hoc, but they had no tables free.

Anonymous said...

55 degrees north is rotten. avoid at all costs.

Anonymous said...


With fewer and fewer customers Zios Portrush seem to have thrown in the towel - the name is down and a new one up instead although it does not seem to have opened up as yet. Not surprising it never lived up to the high standards of the 2 previous owners.