Strabane’s leading restaurant is an attractive building near the courthouse, with pretty hanging baskets to welcome arriving guests, and menus displayed on either side of the front door.
Inside, a seated bar area leads into the restaurant space, which has appealing décor with bold wallpaper in black and cream and panels with beaded motifs giving it a contemporary feel.
Natural light is at a premium, but the dining area is attractively lit and conveys a sense of occasion with its fresh flowers, upholstered benches and high-backed black leather chairs which are set around darkwood tables, laid bistro style, with good linen napkins.
A genuinely warm welcome from well trained staff sets the tone for an experience where excellent service and attention to detail provide the highlights. (A nice touch, for example, is the butter - which comes in curls with a little sprig of rosemary.)
Seasonally-led menus read well and are changed often to reflect the availability of local foods. As a Taste of Ulster member, Oysters takes pride in offering local produce including 28 day hung Northern Ireland beef, seasonal vegetables and organic ice cream - also game, such as Baronscourt venison and pheasant, which is popular in the winter.
Interesting summer dishes on the evening menu might include a starter of seafood cannelloni freshly filled with a salmon and crab filling, lightly poached with a mussel basil and garlic cream (about £5.95) while appealing main courses (around £14.95) could include pan-fried fillet of seabass on a crab and ginger risotto, served with summer greens and roast red pepper and tomato salsa.
'House specialities' include kangaroo (surprising to visitors perhaps, but a popular meat in Northern Ireland) and duo of pork – slow roast belly with stuffed fillet, pear purée and a light red wine reduction.
The dessert menu (about £4.95) offers favourites like apple and rhubarb crumble, cheesecake, crème brulée, and a study of chocolate (a trio of chocolate desserts), or you can finish with an Irish cheeses selection (about £6.95).
The cooking is contemporary and presentation stylish – sometimes with quirky details, such as presenting a little square of tray bake on a half oyster shell with your coffee.
Long opening hours make this a very useful restaurant to know about when visiting the area – and an early evening ‘High Tea’ menu offers especially good value.