The Beach House, Buncrana, Co Donegal
The leading restaurants in major cities, and their chefs, tend to hog the spotlight at awards and, while the size of the population means more top rank establishments to choose from, excellence is no respecter of location – or style. The Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year aims to highlight the quality of smaller establishments, especially those serving outstanding daytime food.
Lovely views across Lough Swilly may be the trump card at Claire McGowan’s smart-casual restaurant, but it has plenty else going for it too. Finding this well-named spot is a joy for a lot of happy visitors – who then have the added pleasure of walking off their meals on the lovely sandy beach afterwards. Welcoming signs at the door ensure that nobody passes unknowingly and, once inside, the stylish yet laid-back two-storey restaurant and a bit of banter from friendly staff will have you hooked.
And they are blessed with their talented head chef, Peter Cheesman, who has an enviable reputation in Donegal for showcasing local produce - and it is well earned, as he cooks with stylish simplicity; everything is freshly made on site, and top quality ingredients translate into very good food indeed. What’s not to like about this charming place.