Since May 2015, Daniel McGarrigle's gastropub The Draft House has proved a very popular addition to the surfing hotspot of Strandhill - a village that was already a food lovers’ destination with a diverse range of interesting eating placesto choose from. With its casual ingredients-led food, focus on craft drinks and laid-back vibe, The Draft House fits in perfectly.
It’s a characterful spot, with visual appeal - the bar was designed by local artists and made from reclaimed materials - and, with a wood-burning stove and inviting leather chairs upstairs, and a large outdoor dining area at the front where you can take advantage of the sea views, there’s a good choice of places to be in all weathers.
Head chef Lee Mastin arrived at The Draft House via several highly regarded kitchens, including that most esteemed of gastropubs, The Oarsman in Carrick-on-Shannon, so he came well prepared to embrace the house motto: ’We don’t do ordinary'.
All meat and poultry on Lee’s seasonally-led menus is 100% Irish and The Draft House takes particular pride in its Irish suppliers, especially the local ones. Whether it’s meat sourced from local Sligo butchers - Sheerin's Meatin' Place in Ballymote (pork, beef, chorizo, sausages and bacon), and Sherlocks of Tubbercurry (beef, chicken) - quail eggs from 12 Quail Farm at Fenagh, Co Leitrim, Thornhill duck from Cavan, or salad leaves from Croghan Organic Garden in Co Roscommon, all are credited on menus and the website.
With those carefully sourced and delicious ingredients providing a sound base, the offering confidently ticks a lot of the typical gastro pub boxes: seafood chowder with homemade bread, Hot & Spicy Sherlock’s chicken wings with a Cashel Blue sauce, a juicy homemade burger with Knockanore cheese, slow-roasted Castlemine pork belly and fish ‘n’ chips are all on offer.
More unusual choices could include shredded pork and coriander croquettes to start, a superfood salad of the day, or perhaps Lime and Dingle Gin marinated cod. Vegetarian, gluten free and vegan dishes are available, and highlighted on the menu.
A dark chocolate mousse could be a lovely way to end a meal here although you might also be tempted by a Retro Dessert Plate featuring that old friend the Wagon Wheel among the treats.
To wash it all down, you can choose from the good range of draft and bottled Irish craft beers, with the local White Hag Brewery featuring strongly, or one of the whiskeys and gins from an extensive list - which offers a strong range of international craft drinks as well as local Irish favourites.
Working busily under the supervision of the manager, Nicholas Ryan, the friendly and menu-savvy staff add to the fun atmosphere - all this, and an enviable seaside location, make The Draft House a good place to know about on the Wild Atlantic Way.