Mum’s the Word!

By Michaela Clarke

We have been extremely quiet with our blogs as of late – all down to lots of happenings at Oysters. The team have been working on lots of exciting projects including a very exciting announcement due in the coming weeks!

But as Mother’s Day fast approaches, I think it’s only fitting to introduce to you our ‘Oysters Mummy’.

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The woman behind the front of house!

Caroline began her career in hospitality at a very young age, serving in her parents bar, Mickey Friel’s in Strabane, clearly not of legal age to be selling alcohol at the time but that was the time that was in it.

Following on from that she worked for her aunty and uncle in Friels of Raphoe,  working at many weddings throughout the years before taking up a post in the Fir Trees Hotel, Strabane.

Having studied at Queen’s University Belfast, Caroline entered the manufacturing industry working at Desmonds in Omagh before crossing the border, climbing her way to Product Development Manager at Fruit of the Loom.

With the ceasing of operations in Ireland for Fruit of the Loom, Caroline decided to ‘take a bit of time out and do the accounts for Kevin’ little did she know, 11 years ago it would turn into an extended ‘time out’.

‘Kevin’s Wife’ is the one who keeps things on track behind the scenes.

Busying herself sorting menus, keeping the books in tip top condition, updating social media, organising events along with attending to the many daily requests from Kevin to ‘do this and do that’.

And we cannot forget she is our in-house interior designer, responsible for exquisite surroundings.

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This Sunday at Oysters we welcome all our special mums to celebrate your special day with us.

If you haven’t been able to secure a table for this Mothering Sunday then why not pop in for a gift voucher to treat your marvellous mum and spoil her instead to a relaxing lunch or indulgent High Tea.

So to all you mums out there and to my special Mummy, Happy Mother’s Day x

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Eel-Eat Week

As Eel Week draws to a close the reception to the initiative in Oysters was phenomenal!

Many customers who had never tried eel before took this opportunity to delve into their adventurous side and they were not disappointed.

Eel-Eat originated from Lough Neagh Partnership in association with the Lough Neagh Fisherman’s Co-Operative and supported and promoted throughout Northern Ireland by Tourism NI and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council,  running from Saturday 25th June to Saturday 2nd July.

The aim of Eel-Eat was to encourage residents, local businesses and visitors to try Lough Neagh eels in support of the local fishing industry within the area.

Oysters put together a dish comprising of ‘Smoked Eel with Sautéed Potatoes, Buttered Leaks and a Watercress Veloute.’

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Here at Oysters we were proud to support our local fishing industry and serve some of the best of local Northern Irish produce.

From Farm to Fork

At Oysters we deal only with the highest calibre of food source from the adjacent locality and we pride ourselves on offering the finest of beef in the region. The provenance and quality of our meat origins, especially, is all important and we are extremely proud to have had a long tradition of meat supply from B McCarron Butchers, Raphoe. Join us in our journey from farm to fork and experience the essence of local produce at its finest.

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Bernard and Brian, of McCarron Butchers, source their meat from a farm no further than three miles over the road from the butcher shop, guaranteeing that the meat they provide is wholly traceable and from the finest of breeds.

Roy Craig, is the farmer in question, who is wholly credited with the breeding and raising of the beef source that graces Oysters‘ tables. Roy deploys a dual approach in the rearing of his cattle, affording them the combination of grazing in green pastures alongside trough feeding. This practice guarantees wholesome, premium product, entirely traceable and as local as it comes.

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The Aberdeen Angus and Charolais are then processed via the abattoir at Edenmore Farm Meats prior to their collection by the butcher himself. With over 44 years of experience garnered at Mc Carrons, the ageing and butchering processes are ready to begin. This initially entails hanging the meat for a 28-day period, allowing the ageing process to ensue.

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B McCarrons hanging room

After ageing, the beef is then prepared into sides of fillet or sirloin by McCarrons before undertaking the final stage of its  journey to Oysters Restaurant, Strabane. The transport of the beef by the butcher himself harks back to traditional trading methods in itself.  A doorstep operation also means that this business opts to place itself on call 24/7 in order to meet it’s customers demands, an unprecedented level of service that is rare to experience in today’s trading world.

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Niall Gorham, Oysters’ head chef, checking the origin of the beef

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Brian Mc Carron butchering

The provenance of our beef is all important to us and visits by Niall and Kevin to assess and approve the operation at McCarrons guarantees that only the finest product makes it into the kitchen at Oysters. Our Head Chef is proud to be associated with McCarrons, acknowledging the supreme quality and service that this butchers operation offers. To review our beef offering check out our menus.

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Brian Mc Carron & Oysters’ owner, Kevin Clarke

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Kevin selecting the meat

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Kevin with a side of sirloin – his favourite!

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Side of Sirloin

We at Oysters, pride ourselves on using only premium products and we fully support B McCarrons in their provision of a top quality product. Beef, lamb and pork are sourced in their entirety from Bernard and Brian, thus securing that only the optimum quality is achieved and offered to Oysters’ clientele.

We hope you have enjoyed your journey from farm to fork with us and that this preamble will enhance further your enjoyment of our beef product.

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Beef Fillet

 

A True Taste of Irish Heritage

By Michaela Clarke

Oysters new Spring menu has a new exciting dish in the form of Haven Smokehouse Turf-Smoked Donegal Salmon served with a Pea, Vanilla & Mint Puree, Confit Potato and Crispy Capers!

Head Chef, Niall Gorham, has had a long standing love for Turf-Smoked Salmon from The Haven Smokehouse, and has now brought a piece of Irish heritage to the plates at Oysters.

Hailing from Derry, Declan McConnelllogue has set up The Haven Smokehouse alongside his partner Sue Cruse from Sri Lanka, in the picturesque Co. Donegal village of Carrigart.

Derry is a thread linking Oysters and The Haven Smokehouse, both owners originating from the Maiden City and now collaborating to bring organic turf-smoked salmon, via the most traditional of smoking methods to the palates of Northern Irish diners, a fine example showcasing the best of our local produce with two Derry natives at the heart of the process.

Declan and Sue pride themselves on keeping their smokehouse as authentic and traditional as possible and with Oysters’ love affair of local produce and Northern Irish heritage, this makes for the perfect pairing, the end product being a fabulous melody of true Irish flavours stimulating the tastebuds.

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Declan McConnelllogue – The Haven Smokehouse

An explosion of flavours and smoked nuances immediately transport the diner to the Irish countryside of old and the heritage of years gone-by, of farmers cutting turf and the smell of turf-filled fires permeating homes across the land.

The beautiful, fresh, organic salmon is carefully hand selected from a bio-suisse approved organic farm in Fanad Head, and Declan explains how; “within hours of swimming in the wild Atlantic waters, it is on the filleting table.”

The journey of the salmon fillet begins a short distance from the smokehouse, only a stone throw from the pristine waters edge.

After the salmon is caught and brought to the smokehouse, Declan, the Master Smoker, carefully threads a needle under the collar of each side of salmon with twine and then hangs same from hooks, allowing the oil that comes to the surface, to drip off the tail, in sparkling droplets. The delicacy is then left to dry in the fresh Atlantic breeze.

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The next step sees the introduction of turf to the process – “It’s time to light the turf fire, gentle smoke envelopes our salmon sides for two to three days as it slowly starts to cure,” explains Declan.

Declan, proprietor of The Haven Smokehouse, details the unique smoking effect used, “Contrary to popular understanding, at The Haven Smokehouse we do not use salt to cure our salmon – we use smoke! Salt is used to create a pellicle on the flesh to let smoke stick to it. Given time, smoke will slowly displace the moisture in the salmon, therefore curing and creating a low salt product – call us rebels!”

The turf is local to the Smokehouse as well, with some of the peat bogs, generated over thousands of years, located in the surrounding hills.

The entire process takes place in the most traditional of smokehouses, designed and established by Declan and Sue, shunning the modern commercialised smoking processes in favour of an authentic dry-stone walled cottage smoking methods, thereby keeping Irish heritage truly alive in the form of turf-smoked salmon, every single element coming from the surrounding landscape and carried out through Irish traditions passed down through generations. “After many late nights and many mistakes, I realised it was a taste of my memories, of a time when simplicity was understanding and knowledge was watching the salmon, with the old soul,” Declan – The Haven Smoke House.

A man, with an absolute passion for heritage and the simplicity of process, Declan is on the threshold of perfecting his recipe for sour dough bread which he hopes to make in his own clay oven currently in process of being fashioned by his own hands. Keep an eye out for another wonderful, exciting product being exported across the region of Ireland / Northern Ireland and Europe.

If this has tantalised your tastebuds and you yearn to savour veritable organic turf-smoked salmon at its optimum, visit Oysters and be enthralled by the delicacies of this superb product, steeped in the heritage of these two Derry natives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NI Year of Food & Drink ’16

By Michaela Clarke

Last Wednesday night saw the launch of NI’s Year of Food & Drink 2016 at Belfast’s Ulster Hall and Oysters Restaurant was honoured to be numbered amongst the 200 distinguished guests.

The venue was transformed into a stunning backdrop for a celebration of our local products and a taste of the exciting festivities for us all to indulge in from now until March 2017.

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 NI Year of Food & Drink 2016, New Year Banquet- Ulster Hall 13/1/16

On the evening, Yellow Door Deli provided the catering, serving up pan-seared Lough Neagh Eel with bacon cubes, Armagh Bramley apple puree, black mustard frills and sweet pickled beetroot to start. For main course guests enjoyed roast Baronscourt Venison and shoulder fritter with celeriac, smoked Comber potato fondants, chanterelles, crispy Calvo Nero and Ruby Blue blackcurrant jus. The flow of local produce continued with, caramelised pear and Bushmills whiskey tart with chocolate and candied hazelnut crumb and buttermilk sorbet served for dessert.

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At one of her first public engagements as First Minister, Arlene Foster commented that:

“There is no better time for tourists as well as our global markets than now to enjoy Northern Ireland” – First Minster, Arlene Foster

We are invited as a nation to develop, enhance and promote Northern Ireland as one of the best isles for food and drink. With so many wonderful artisan producers and award-winning restaurants in the region, now is the time to showcase this to the rest of the world.

One of the most exciting announcements to come on the evening was that Northern Ireland will be host to the BBC Good Food Show in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast in October.

“This year provides a strong link with people and our native soil” – Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness

With many exciting events taking place across the country we, at Oysters, are only too excited to jump on NI Year of Food & Drink’s bandwagon and join in in the celebration of our local, heritage and food to promote the local Strabane area and put it on the map as a foodie destination.

Keep watch for specialities and events that will bring monthly themes to our customers. #enjoyni16

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NI Year of Food & Drink 2016 – Calendar of events

 

 

As we wave goodbye to 2015, we say hello to a bright 2016

By Michaela Clarke

As we enter into a new chapter in 2016, we say goodbye to a fabulous year at Oysters Restaurant.

2015 kicked off with one of our famous Food and Wine Tasting Evenings. To reflect the season, fresh Oysters, paired with a fabulous Sauvignon Blanc, was one of the dishes on offer. In addition, in November past, we held a Game and Wine Tasting Evening to also coincide with seasonality.

January and February are crucial months in the business. This is when time and effort is spent in drawing-up menus as well as the whole team coming together to discuss and developing new ideas for the year ahead. This year will be no different as Niall will base his new menu ideas on the best of local fresh fish and meat delicacies to suit the evolving seasons.

Having been listed as one of Northern Ireland’s top five restaurants in 2015 at the LCN Awards, the year was off to another great start and prompted an enhanced strive in both kitchen and front house to become better and initiate new challenges, by way of delivering an even better dining experience for our customers. In addition, being listed again, as a member of the Taste of Ulster for seven years running is always an achievement each year that we gladly welcome.

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Kevin & Caroline at the LCN Awards Ceremony 2015

Mid-way through the year we once again welcomed children and their families celebrating either Holy Communion or the Holy Spirit, all with that personalised touch that Oysters offers.

As the year progresses from Spring to Summer, the menu at Oysters comes alive with an array of fresh seafood, made possible by Kevin’s personal trips to Burtonport Harbour every few days to hand-pick the freshest of fish from the boats. Lobster is a highly anticipated dish that many customers look forward to indulging in, season permitting. Building this, Oysters appeared at the Flavours of the Foyle Festival during the summer months, showcasing the cookery skills of our talented chefs.

Summer witnessed the emergence of yet another, Wine Tasting Evening enticing patrons to sample a taste of what the team at Oysters envisions as true Summer cuisine. This evening also marked the significant 50th birthday of Kevin, thereby turning the night into even more of a magical celebration!

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Celebrating Kevin’s 50th Birthday!

In October we were ecstatic when it was brought to our attention that we received this spectacular review in The Irish News and are extremely grateful for their kind comments.

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The Irish News review

Winter is probably one of the most loved seasons at Oysters in regards to menus. Venison, pheasant and woodcock become the mainstay of menus at this time of year. Many customers share this same passion and annually anticipate the coming of Winter.

Our year always comes to an end with our renowned New Years Eve Gala. The highlight of this year’s menu was the ‘Egg and Soldiers’ dessert, constructed by Niall to resemble the breakfast favourite. One diner commented,

“The chef deserves a standing ovation for the dessert”

This penultimate course lent well to the previous dishes on the menu as the mango and vanilla crème pat filled egg shell, finishing off the evening with a light fruity dessert to complement the palate. The ‘soldiers’ element of the dessert was constructed from home-made shortbread and white and chocolate sugar disguised as salt and pepper to give the dish its authentic look. Check out a selection of the dishes on offer below.

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Egg and Soldiers

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Pan-Roasted Beef Fillet & Short Rib

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Pan-Fried Turbot & Maple Glazed Chicken Wing

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Scallops with Pork Belly

Here at Oysters, we are excitedly anticipating for Northern Ireland’s Year of Food 2016 which has kicked off with January being breakfast month. Make sure to keep up-to-date with our latest posts to find out more in the coming months, lots of exciting food creations to deliver the monthly themes at Oysters.

As we now welcome the New Year 2016, we gratefully thank all our valued patrons for their custom and continuing support. – Kevin & Caroline Clarke

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

By Michaela Clarke

Christmas is fast approaching and it is a time to share love and joy with friends and family. With an indulgence in memorable food and tantalising wine, Oysters is the perfect venue for the festive celebrations.

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As well as our usual Lunch and A la Carte menus we also offer a set Christmas Lunch and Dinner menu, to get everyone in the festive mood.

If you are out and about doing some Christmas shopping why not pop in for a hot roast dinner. As the weather is beginning to get a lot colder, we need time-out to recuperate!

Our ever popular Christmas Eve lunch is filling up fast so if you are interested in unwinding just before the Christmas festivities begin and fancy some complimentary mulled wine, made by Kevin himself on Christmas Eve morning, then pop in the midst of the hustle and bustle that this day brings and take time out.

The staff and management at Oysters looks forward to seeing everyone over the Christmas period and hopes everyone enjoys their celebrations.

 

Game & Wine Tasting Evening

By Michaela Clarke

Oysters Game & Wine Tasting evening was a massive success. With diners staying well into the evening to experience the musical talents of Ronan Doherty.

The night began with an Apéritif made by Kevin himself, then after choosing starter, main course and dessert our patrons could relax and allow us to tend all evening.

Starters consisted of a Game Terrine, made up of Duck, Pheasant and Woodcock or Roast Breast of Wood Pigeon, elegantly matched by Charles Robb to bring out the fruity flavours of the dishes.

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Charles described how, “We build the wine up in weight.”

So the wine selection started off quite light and as the menu progressed it became darker in colour with more body in each glass to further enhance the palate.

Following on was the the Soup Course, ‘White Bean, Parsley & Parmesan Soup served with homemade bread. This was paired with the South African, Boland Reserve Chenin Blanc which went down a treat!

For Main Course everyone had a choice of either ‘Stuffed Breast of Pheasant’, ‘Roast Loin of Venison’ or ‘Pan-fried John Dory’.

Venison was off course the main selection of the evening, being the most sought-after and well loved game dish. The wine pairing of Micini Nero Davola, a rich, juicy and ripe in medium body wine, originating from Sicily coupled with cherry flavours and black pepper notes stole the show last night. Many diners were raving about the wine and even purchased some to relax over.

To finish off the evening customers could at their ease enjoy their Dessert and Cheese Course as Ronan began to play a selection of his music.

 

 

Tonight is the Night

By Michaela Clarke

The night has finally arrived when our diners will indulge in an evening of good food, fine wine and majestic music.

Commencing at 8pm customers will enter the restaurant and be greeted with a glass of our ‘Special’ cocktail of the evening.

The food will then begin with Niall and his team in the kitchen serving up delicacies all evening, ranging from Woodpigeon, Vension, to tempt you…

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The evening will draw to a close on the food and wine side with a cheeseboard and vintage port duo to tantalise the taste buds one last time.

Charles Robb, of Robb Brothers Wine Merchants will be here all evening to explain each wine pairing and how it matches exquisitely with the dish to bring out the flavours in both.

You can then sit back and enjoy the superbly talented Ronan Doherty with a share of classic and original songs.

 

Nearly Wine Tasting Time

By Michaela Clarke

In under a week our much anticipated Game & Wine Tasting Evening will be underway. Both front of house and kitchen staff are looking forward to this event as it is an opportunity for staff to participate in something different, not just your usual service.

Kevin has been busy this week, liaising with Charles Robb, of Robb Brothers Wine Merchants in order to supply customers with an exquisite selection of wine for the evening.

 

Meanwhile, Niall takes charge in the kitchen of menu matters. The finalisation of the menu will take place this week as our head chef makes some final touches to taste.

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**Menu Preview** ‘Roast Breast of Woodpigeon’ served with fig tart, rocket and thyme jus to start and for main you can look forward to, ‘Roast Loin of Venison’ with butternut squash, roast salsify, curly kale and juniper berry jus.

You’ll have to wait until next Friday to find out what else is on!

As our guests look forward to next Friday, we look forward to welcoming you all to a wonderful evening of great wine and fine cuisine.