Donegal’s Bridgestone success

A number of Donegal businesses are at the very top of their game, according to the prestigious Bridgestone Guides.

A number of Donegal businesses are at the very top of their game, according to the prestigious Bridgestone Guides.

Authors John and Sally McKenna have included Harry’s Bar and Restaurant in Bridgend and The Mill, Dunfanaghy in their Guide to the 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland 2012. The Mill is also one of the 100 Best Places to Stay in Ireland. Ramelton native Gary O’Hanlon is named one of the Top 10 Chefs and Linsfort Castle B&B is one of the 100 Best Places to Stay. Rathmullan House, Aroma Café and Glenveagh National Park are also highly praised.

Harry’s, run by Donal and Kevin Doherty, with chef Raymond Moran, is one of the busiest restaurants in the country. It’s had a meteoric ascent to national attention over the last 18 months. The Bridgestone Guide’s authors, John and Sally McKenna visited and remarked that “Harry’s is stunning, and it’s one of the great contemporary Irish restaurants”. Harry’s also makes the top Ten in four specific areas - Top 10 Places to Beat the Recession, Top 10 Hot Chefs, Top 10 Places with Gardens and Top Ten Great Signature Dishes.

Also considered one of the best is The Mill Restaurant in Dunfanaghy. Derek and Susan Alcorn’s The Mill made its Bridgestone Guide debut in 2001 and since then “things have simply gotten better”. In the Bridgestone 100 Best Places to Stay in Ireland 2012 The Mill, in its “serenely blissful “ setting at the very northern tip of the country, is acknowledged as one of the Top 10 Restaurants with Rooms.

Ramelton man Gary O’Hanlon also get top honours. The chef at Viewmount House in Longord is named as one of the Top 10 Chefs in Ireland. Viewmount House itself also makes the top 100 Resturants list as well as the top 100 Places to stay. The McKennas write: “Viewmount House is the place that has put Longford on the culinary map. Thanks to Beryl and James Kearney’s hospitality and Ramelton man Gary O’Hanlon’s dynamic cooking, Longford has gotten the destination it has so long needed. Donegal’s Gary O’Hanlon turns the produce of his suppliers into culinary gold, with a style of food that is generous, earthy and agrestic,”

Speaking of which, Linsfort Castle B & B, located on the shores of Lough Swilly just outside Buncrana, has been selected for the second year running as one of the 100 Best Places to stay as well. Owners Alan Rooks and Brigeen Clafferty only got into the B&B business in 2008. Alan says being one of the Bridgesone 100 makes a hugedifference. “Up to 2011 our clients were mainly visitors already coming to Inishowen who found us through our web site. However, after getting in the Top 100, we found that quite a number of new customers were actually coming to Linsfort as a destination. Thanks to Bridgestone, I think that we have been able to make a useful contribution to the effort to put Inishowen on the tourist map of Ireland”

John McKenna told the Donegal Democrat: “Donegal’s major strength is consistency. “Places like Rathmullan House, Aroma in Donegal Town and The Mill are models of getting it right every time.

“Donegal is also ahead of most of the country in stressing a premium on local sourcing. Obviously Harry’s is the leader here, but this is a hugely significant thing and is of course echoed by the Donegal Good Food Taverns initiative.We have been talking about pubs being doomed and Donegal is the county showing that there is a way for the pubs to re-invent themselves. “It’s also great that there’s good food in places like the Glenveagh National Park.

“Best of all Donegal food people seem to be doing it for themselves. Initiatives are local, and not driven by tourism bodies and other outsiders. “Also the quirky charm of places like Linsofort Castle really gives Donegal an edge.”

The Bridgestone 100 Best guides are published by Estragon Press and have won the international André Simon and Glenfiddich Awards, and the first Slow Food Ireland Media Prize. The Guides cost €12 each. The Bridgestone Restaurant and Bridgestone Places to Stay Apps are also now available for €6.99 from iTunes and www.bridgestoneguides.com.