Derry city is the most happening urban place in Ireland, so get yourself up there before the hordes start to arrive, and jack up the accommodation prices. Here is your bucket list of places not to miss.
There are many reason to visit both the Primrose destinations, whether for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. But there are two key reasons why it’s not to be missed: Derek, and Monto cooking together in Strand Street.
Derek Creagh is one of the great Irish cooks, and his work today is as fine, as pure and as authoritative as it has ever been. Every dish is a textbook example of how to cook, from the world’s best bacon jam with some Corndale charcuterie, to beef cheek with cauliflower rarebit that renders you silent with satisfied stupefaction. Monto Mansour, meanwhile, is busy crafting what may be the finest patisserie in Ireland. Between them, Primrose is Derry’s gastronomic powerhouse.
Ian Orr is a classy cook, and the food in his Waterside and city centre locations is judged with rare acuity and insight. Superb staff.
The Sooty Olive
Sean Harrigan and his team go from strength to strength, with cooking that really knows its stuff. When they nail the service, this place will go through the roof.
With a second branch opening soon on Shipquay Street, Darren Bradley’s ace pizzas are taking over the town. Proper order.
He runs one of the finest food carts in the land – Pyke ‘n’ Pommes – down by the river, but Kevin Pyke is also moving to a new home, right beside Primrose on Strand Street. Mr Pyke has been killing it in the city for the last 5 years, so expect the fireworks.
Soda & Starch Pantry & Grill
Ray Moran, the chef who made Harry’s of Bridgend into a destination, is back in the kitchen, in a collaboration with the superb Bishop’s Gate Hotel. Soda & Starch reanimates the classics – seafood pie; vegetable broth; sticky ribs; crab linguine; chicken breast with boxty; bacon chop. Just lovely.
Suki Nagra’s excellent Indian restaurant moved into the centre of the city five years ago, and it’s an essential staple of Derry’s culinary culture. Excellent, nuanced cooking piles on the pleasure.
Walled City Brewery
James and Louise Huey are brewing beer for the Gods in this super-stylish brewery and dining destination. Excellent cooking, and make sure to buy some of their amazing beers to take home.
Claire McGowan’s cafe has stellar standards: this girl really knows her food, and the café is a calm, luxe space in the incredible Guildhall. Vital.
A cosy little basement space on Shipquay Street has some friendly Asian-style cooking. BYO, so get the good local beers in first. 12A Shipquay St
S T A Y I N G
Beech Hill Country House
Conor Donnelly and his team do an excellent job in this plush, welcoming country house a few miles outside the city.
Bishop’s Gate Hotel
A superb work of restoration has seen the old Northern Counties building transformed into a slick, classy hotel, bang in the centre of town. Our last breakfast here was note-perfect.
A great big enterprise, characterised by friendly, extra-helpful staff.
Shipquay Boutique Hotel
Great location in the centre of town.
The Saddler’s House, The Merchant’s House
Two beautifully restored, classic destinations run by Joan Pyne.
B R I N G I N G H O M E - fill the valise with:
Northbound Beers - northboundbrewery.com
Corndale charcuterie - corndalefarm.com
Dart Mountain cheeses - TamnaghFoods
Primrose Patisserie (see photo) - primrose-ni.com
Scarpello Sourdough Breads - Scarpello&Co
Quiet Man Whiskey (coming soon!)
Walled City Beers - walledcitybrewery.com
William Grant & Co Bacon - @grantsbacon