Masterchef critic Rayner gushes over Harry’s Shack

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The restaurant that is on everyone’s lips in Ireland - Harry’s Shack in Portstewart - has received a glowing review from food critic, Jay Rayner.

Writing in The Observer, Rayner - probably best known as an occasional critic on Masterchef - lavished praise on the Strand Beach restaurant opened by Donal Doherty and chef Derek Creagh - the duo behind Harry’s Restaurant in Bridgend, just over the border.

Enamoured with the fantastic setting, Rayner comments: “There’s a wood-burning stove that scents the air, strings of fairground lights slung from the ceiling, and lots of big windows, because this is a view that must be present. You need to feel the uncompromising intensity of nature at your back: an intensity which turns you down towards the food on your plate. There are a lot of very good things to be looked at there, too.”

Referring to chef Creagh, he opines: “I last came across Derek Creagh at a good gastropub in London, but I’d clocked him before. He was a part of the early brigade at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Bray and, later, was the head chef at the Riverside Brasserie, Blumenthal’s first short-lived second restaurant, in a boat house by the banks of the Thames.

“The food at Harry’s Shack most readily recalls the food I ate at the Riverside Brasserie more than a decade ago.

“None of the dishes sound extraordinary. It’s straightforward stuff that doesn’t so much speak to an appetite nurtured by striding along the beach, as hector it...

“By doing everything so well that people drive from a long way away to get here. That makes total sense. I booked just before Christmas; in the first days of the New Year it received a bunch of awards. As a result it’s rammed. It’s as simple as this: coming to Northern Ireland right now and not going to Harry’s Shack would be a stupid thing to do. Just ask a local.”

The glowing review comes after John and Sally McKenna’s Guides rated it the top eaterie of 2014 despite only opening at the National Trust-run strand in August.