What’s Cooking in Northern Ireland

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By the looks of things there has been no resting in Northern Ireland during the lockdown and a burst of new food and drink offerings are appearing.  It is timely as we will probably be spending more holidays up north this summer.

The food industry is booming in Northern Ireland. Chefs are putting new twists on old favourites like fish and chips, soda farls, whiskey-smoked meats and home-baked breads.  Local food professionals are flavouring their menus with an extra element of surprise. 

Hinch Distillery, Ballynahinch, Co. Down 

A new 30,000 sq. ft. distillery in Ballynahinch is now open for tours where visitors will have an interactive journey.  It will give them an insight into both the history of Irish whiskey and its unique distilling process with a tutored tasting at the end of the tour.  

Head Chef Leo Small, at the Hinch Brasserie serves up dishes flavoured with the distillery’s already famed whiskeys and gins. Featuring classic dishes with a twist followed by masterpieces such as Whiskey Cask Smoke Cured Beef Short Rib with malt roast onion, whipped potato king and mushroom butter kale.

 The Rabbit Hotel, Templepatrick, Co. Antrim 

Northern Ireland’s newest hotel opened last month, May 2021 and is located just 20 minutes from Belfast. It is the Galgorm’s sassy little sister, The Rabbit, and it has a sleek, modern feel.  

The Rabbit Restaurant and Hunters Bar is the perfect spot to get stuck into inspiring menus. Expect fresh, local, and delicious dishes. A grill room menu has an Italian-American influence. And features appetisers to pique your interest, pizzas for a slice of comfort and sharing options for two.

Relaxing in the Rabbit Hotel

Waterman Cookery School, Belfast

James St restaurant owner and award-winning chef Niall McKenna has opened his fresh, new-look Waterman House Cookery School.  It is located in Belfast’s trendy Cathedral Quarter. Based in the Grade B-listed old Bushmills bonded warehouse, the new cookery

school can accommodate groups of up to 18.  It will have state-of-the-art workstations and the latest kitchen equipment. 

Le Four, Belfast 

Along with the new cookery school opening, Niall and his team will launch a new street food offering. Le Four will serve up fresh, made-to-order stone-baked pizzas from a converted Land Rover Defender. There will be an outdoor dining space in the building’s courtyard.

 The Cuan, Strangford, Co. Down 

Under new ownership after extensive renovations, The Cuan, which means a peaceful place in Irish, is a relaxed dining experience.  It has overnight accommodation and a cosy bar for trips away. Being on the coast they have a regular supply of excellent fresh seafood from East Coast Seafoods. Authentic Neapolitan pizza from a wood-fired oven will also be on the menu. 

The Cuan – Scampi and Chips

The Copper Tap and Café 1806, Omagh, Co. Tyrone 

A new bar and restaurant revamped during lockdown on the former site of ‘The Hogs Head’ in Omagh, opened with a coffee and food experience. The restaurant, 1806, believes in exceptional service and hospitality.  It will be sourcing local food from farmers and producers they know and trust.

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