Formerly Custom House Restaurant & Wine Bar, Barry O'Brien's 1876 Brasserie & Champagne Lounge and Entrada Restaurant opened here late in 2016. A Spanish influenced restaurant with some modern local favourites, it has brought a welcome new element to the dining options in Derry city.
This historic stone building near the Guildhall dates back to 1876 and is listed, but it has made a handsome dining destination since it was converted to create an impressive three storey bar and restaurant in 2008. Through a welcoming glass lobby, the front door opens directly into the ground floor restaurant and bar, an attractive space with a clean lined interior and an open kitchen, where a Spanish 'Mibrasa' charcoal oven is the star of the show - the embodiment of Entrada ('Getaway').
Tables arranged in two areas around the oven are simply laid, with a knife and fork set on a folded white napkin at each place setting, and smart casual staff in jeans and snazzy shorts seat arriving customers promptly, Water and glasses are brought to the table and, in addition to the menu, a well placed blackboard proclaims the specials of the day - and carnivores will be in heaven here, as the charcoal oven gives meats an irresistible flavour.
Waiting staff are attentive without being at all intrusive and have good menu knowledge, telling you, if asked, where the meat comes from (which is Raphoe, in neighbouring Donegal), although there's less focus on local provenance that might be expected from their Facebook page.
You might begin with a generous cheese and meat plate to share (about £8); it comes with crusty bread and the salami, ham and various cheeses are listed on a blackboard.
Steak - a 250g sirloin, perhaps - is accompanied in classic style with mushrooms and béarnaise sauce, or you might have a succulent and very tasty burger from the charcoal oven, with a gorgeous chorizo chutney on the side. Onion rings are just as they should be - large and well battered - also the triple cooked chips, and smaller fries, which are crunchy on outside and soft on inside as nature intended. The Mibrasa oven is a real presence, as it is in open view of all diners and you can see your dinner being cooked to order.
A nice wine selection, offered both by the bottle and the glass, includes a good choice of Spanish wine as would be expected and includes something to suit all budgets - although beer lovers should try their 'Entrada' house beer, which is brewed for them in Belfast.
All this and good value for money too, this stylishly informal venue is doing something simple but different - and doing it well.
Entrada has found its niche among Northern Ireland dining destinations, providing a good lunchtime outing as well as a stylish night out or special occasion venue for the lucky locals.