Continuing on my foodie adventure of Northern Ireland, we headed for the coast. With a country that's so small you can drive from one end to the other in 2 hours, going from City dinning to picnics by the beach is very easy.
Although with winter coming picnics by the beach might not be the best. However fear not, for I have the next best thing.
Perched on the sands of the Nation Trust owned Portstewart Strand, Harry's Shack is a little seafood oasis on the water front, with an awesome back garden.
Inside it's a typical beach front shack, complete with wooden paneling and those all important strung lights.
It's rammed to the rafters, even at our odd 3:30pm lunch time, although even without tasting the food, it's not hard to see why, killer location, cute, breezy atmosphere- I had a good feeling about this place.
The menu is very simple, made up of mostly seafood and fish, but with some meat and vegetarian options. All vegetables and fruit comes from the farm that they own, and all the seafood and fish is Northern Ireland caught.
We started with some simple bread and butter for the table. Now I don't want to go all overboard and loosely through around the word amazing for bread and butter, however I have discovered on this trip that the Northern Irish know how to make bread. It's really good and well, the butter is something of note. It's from a small independent company called Abernethy butter, and I first had it way over a year ago in Holborn Dinning Rooms in London. It is without a joke the best butter I've ever had. Gushing done now.
Trying (and failing) not to fill up on the bread, starters arrived.
We had pumpkin ravioli which was sweet, rich and sort of melted on the tongue. It really was excellent.
We also had prawn tails in garlic, lemon and parsley butter. Prawns are a love hate for me. I do love the taste, but damn they are one tricky bastard to get out of the shells. I usually end up getting frustrated and bashing them a few times.
However if you can get over the shells, these were so plump, and with a zing from the lemon, I *almost* remained calm.
Of course we couldn't have seafood without mussels.
These were stewing in Irish cider, which was just made for dunking that bread into.
I love food like this as it's made to be shared. It get's everyone talking and animated, and generally just much happier.
Now, with our spirits raised so much, we couldn't stop now could we?
So we shared a whole plaice with smoked bacon butter (is this the best combo ever?!) and chorizo.
And it is as if they just new, as there was an extra pot of that bacon butter sauce.... oh lordy.
And also hake with spiced tomato, baby potato stew.
Ok, again I don't want to come across if I'm being over the top here, but guys, these chips, and this mash were outstanding. The chips were just so crisp on the outside, and fluffy inside, but the mash, oh the mash. It was the best mash I may have ever had. I know! Crazy! I asked the chef and it may have had something to do with the 2 packs of butter to 1kg of potato ratio he was using... yeah not one for the dieters I'm afraid.
For once it wasn't just me snapping away.
If all that wasn't enough, we ended with a board of Irish cheese. Now Irish cheese isn't a phrase you hear a lot, but in the last 3 years it's really come on leaps and bounds. So if you want to branch out, and impress your guests next time you mock up a cheese board, I'd seriously consider getting some Irish cheese.
Oh and if you can get your hands on Passion Preserved Spiced Damson Jelly, it will be a game changer. That on crackers is a good meal in itself.
Harry's Shack completely blew me away. Sometimes you think that a cafe on the beach will be a bit toursity and crap to be quite frank, but oh how Harry's is totally the opposite.
If your heading to Northern Ireland, which I already recommend you do, get yourself down there ASAP, whether it's beach season or not.