So do you remember 2016, the NI Year of Food & Drink? Ah the memories! Of course it seems like a lifetime ago now, so to get invited to a legacy event for this monumental year gone by, was an absolute pleasure. A wee road trip no less, first to the North West and Brown’s in Town in Derry/Londonderry. A short hop to the 2016 Irish Restaurant Awards ‘Best Restaurant in Ulster’, Brown’s Restaurant & Champagne Lounge and finishing with a quick stop at Ardtara House near Maghera, also a member of the Brown’s Group.
Brown’s in Town
So onto the bus we went, leaving Belfast for a 2 hour journey to our first stop and what was a kind of ‘meet the supplier’ set up. A proud display by the Browns Group, showing their commitment to local food and drink producers.
Around the room of Brown’s in Town we were able to sample some Donnybrewer Butter, you absolutely must try this stuff, it’s fantastic! Another hit was the smoked salmon from Donegal Prime Fish, tremendously fresh and gorgeous with equally fresh bread baked by Brown’s themselves.
Also making an appearance were Kee Fruits, Dart Mountain Cheese, Brendan Gallagher Meats and a brewing and distilling showcase from Northbound Brewery and Quiet Man Whiskey. A very friendly, passionate and uber talented bunch of people indeed. Chatting to them and trying their produce along with a wee glass of wine and canapes was a great start to the night.
Brown’s Restaurant & Champagne Lounge
From Brown’s in Town we hopped over to Brown’s Restaurant and honestly one of the best food experiences I’ve had. Head Chef Ian Orr with a live demo of each course we had.
Chef Orr entertaining the crowd
A superb display of skill and effortless attention to detail, all while entertaining the crowd with some great craic. Our meal was a total triumph and included the recently crowned Northern Ireland’s Signature Dish, ‘Born and Braised’. Here’s what we had:
Homemade breads with Donnybrewer Butter. Gorgeous bread, gorgeous butter, enough said!
Loughview Farm egg yolk, Errigle Bay scallop and pomegranate. The egg is cooked in a water bath, giving it a very unique texture. The pomegranate seemed strange in my head but really gave the dish a little something extra.
Donegal crab, apple and cucumber. Subtle cucumber flavour which is just as well as I’m not a big cucumber fan (to put it mildly). Light and creamy crab going nicely with the apple.
‘Born & Braised’, beef cheek (from Brendan Gallagher meats) cooked to utter perfection served with Kee Fruit beetroot.
And finally, a rhubarb parfait with white chocolate. A satisfying ‘crack’ of the white chocolate on top and the smooth parfait underneath. A great conclusion to the meal.
Stuffed with some the best food you could taste we headed to our final stop, the very grand Ardtara House and a nightcap of Quiet Man Whiskey and shortbread nibbles. A late hometime especially for a school night but an absolutely fab event and some great company to go with the exceptional food.
All 3 venues are worth a visit and hopefully a meal in Brown’s in Town is on the cards in the not too distant future.
A huge thank you to Chef Orr, the Brown’s Group, particularly the teams there on the night. And a special thanks to Nicola Bothwell from NB Chartered Communications for the invite.