Two years ago it was a shed, but now this beachside restaurant is the star of Northern Ireland’s food scene
The way Donal Doherty tells it, the most remarkable thing about his restaurant is not that it has won the OFM award for Best Newcomer. It’s that it exists at all. “It was a terrible December day, when I first saw the building, with the rain coming down and the sea that stormy,” Doherty says now of Harry’s Shack, which overlooks the tumble and boil of the Atlantic at Portstewart, an hour’s drive north of Belfast. “There was no glass in the windows, and sand piled up inside everywhere.” He concluded that to take it on would be either “mad” or “genius”.
Almost two years on and it turns out it was genius. After a six-figure refit, and a menu devised by chef Derek Creagh, Harry’s Shack has established itself as a shining star of Northern Ireland’s fast-emerging food scene. As the name suggests, it is a long low-slung wooden shed, owned by the National Trust and once used as the beach office. Now there are picture windows framing the glorious views, a wood burning stove and a fish-heavy menu, boasting the best the day boats can deliver.