It’s hard to beat the wow factor of a whole-cooked lobster served up to your restaurant table, and there’s no doubting that shellfish is a big star in the local Northern Ireland seafood show.
The all-star shellfish cast includes Kilkeel’s king scallops and the oysters and mussels of Strangford Lough, Dundrum Bay and Lough Foyle. There’s also leading parts for Portavogie prawns, the langoustines landed from the Irish Sea, as well as crab, shrimp, clams, cockles and whelks.
There’s simply an array of tasty crustaceans on menus and fish counters all over Northern Ireland. To sample them, all you have to do is take a cruise around the processors, fishmongers, markets and eateries serving the best palate pleasing shellfish around.
With the three fishing ports of Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie, County Down is shellfish central.
If you want to shell out for something to cook yourself, one option is to go straight to the fishermen and processers who sell to the public, like Marty Johnston at East Coast Seafood near Downpatrick. Marty can get you anything from fresh lobster, to whole brown crab and Strangford Lough mussels.
Or check out Portavogie-based mobile fishmonger Something Fishy run by Ed Murray, a regular stalwart at Comber Farmer’s Market and others. Ed’s fresh Ballywalter crab is delicious and he always has a wide variety of fresh fish, prawns and langoustines on sale.
For settling down at a nice restaurant table for some delicious shellfish, Dundrum is great spot. With restaurants such as the Buck’s Head Inn and Mourne Seafood Bar showcasing imaginative seafood specialties, you will be spoilt for choice.Look out too for the special lobster nights at Mourne Seafood Bar.
A stone’s throw from Strangford Lough, Balloo House is among the many local restaurants cooking up a storm with shellfish. Its fresh seafood specials changing daily and include steamed Strangford mussels with Farmageddon beer and toasted soda bread.
The County Down catch ends up all over Northern Ireland, and in Belfast shellfish is a speciality in swish eatery Tedfords.
Tasty Dundrum Bay mussels, local scallops and beautiful baked oysters are all here too, but other key crustacean destinations in the city include Deanes Eipic, St George’s Market, the legendary fishmonger Walter Ewing and the amazing Sawers deli.
Out of the city, people will travel for miles to the top fish and chip shop of Morton’s in Ballycastle, renowned for its take-away fresh lobster, crab claws, crab meat, prawns and scallops.
Over in Portstewart, the menu at Harry’s Shack is also rich with shellfish. The chefs here actually go to the fishermen directly to bring back their catches straight from the boat.
On round the coast, Lough Foyle, fished by local people for centuries, nurtures a bounty of slow-growing wild mussels, oysters and crabs.
Fresh from these shores, The Market Yard in Limavady serves up steamed Lough Foyle mussels in Chardonnay, thyme and bacon, and also serving the local catch is Pier 59, the seafood specialist in Derry~Londonderry. This stylish bistro offers fresh caught crab, mussels and oysters, as well as hot and cold seafood platters.
Time to let these splendid culinary pickings star on your plate.