Restaurant Profile February 2018: Primrose Derry
All-day dining is on offer at Primrose’s new restaurant, deli and cocktail bar with onsite bakery on strand road, complementing its established site on the quay in Derry, Ciaran Breslin, co-owner with his wife Melanie, tells HRNI
WHEN DID YOUR RESTAURANT OPEN AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN IT?
Our new Primrose restaurant and delicatessen opened mid-November 2017 so we are still very new on the scene, although our brand Primrose has been around for six years now.
With humble beginnings on Carlisle Road in Derry, we started with a small intimate cafe focusing on good local produce and quality home baking. We then expanded with the opening of our gorgeous riverside bistro in December 2015, and the move of our bakery to a standalone industrial unit to suffice the demand for our products.
Our inspiration has come from lots of travel, as has all our premises; it has a very French-inspired theme running throughout the premises and brand.
TELL US ABOUT THE SPACE YOU HAVE
The space is an iconic local building in the form of the old T&E Howie lighting building on Derry’s Strand Road; a 6,000-square-foot ground floor building which is now occupied by our flagship site.
Housing our restaurant, it also has a delicatessen showcasing the best in local and artisanal producers, a cocktail bar and our on-site bakery which we have moved also.
It is a very unique and spacious restaurant, which we feel is a huge addition to the already thriving food scene in our city.
WHAT FEEL ARE YOU AIMING FOR?
As in everything we have done previously, we are trying to create a very social and casual dining experience for our customers and, with the addition of a fantastic cocktail bar again showcasing the best drinks locally, it really has become a social hub since opening in November.
WHAT’S ON YOUR MENU AND WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?
Our head chef Derek Creagh is 100% committed to using only the finest local ingredients; building relationships with local producers and farmers is key to both his and Primrose’s ethos. Derek’s style of cooking is classic bistro with a very strong commitment to local quality produce; uncomplicated and straight forward food that excels in flavour and presentation.
Derek has worked with some of the finest chefs in the UK (including Heston Blumenthal at the award-winning Fat Duck in Bray), while other restaurants include Chez Bruce, The Square and Putney Bridge. Most recently, Derek worked at Harrys in Donegal, where he was awarded Chef of the Year at the Georgina Campbell Awards 2015.
With our love of pastry, we have also had the pleasure of welcoming one of Ireland’s best pastry chefs to our team, Monto Mansour, and we have been able to further extend the range of the finest French patisserie and pastry on offer at our premises.
Monto comes with a wealth of experience, having worked in places like The Greenhouse, Deanes, Saphyre and Harrys.
Combined with Derek’s helm at the kitchen and Monto in our pastry kitchen, we really do feel we have one of the best duos in the country.
Our current menu has some wonderful winter dishes and flavours:
- Wild Venison cottage pie, chestnuts & truffle creamed vegetables
- Breast of chicken, smoked pancetta, artichoke, tarragon, potato cocottes, spinach, roasting juices
- Greencastle cod, chorizo, spiced tomato & chickpea stew, cauliflower, lemon couscous
- Ham hock salad, pink fir potatoes, crispy hen egg, honey mustard dressing
- Onion tart, Coolea cheddar, winter leaves, pickled walnuts & truffle dressing
- Butternut squash risotto, aged parmesan, tea soaked cranberry, seed pesto
Just a few of what is currently on offer…
DOES YOUR MENU CHANGE OFTEN?
Our menu changes with the seasons and what produce is readily available to Derek and his team.
WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
Our customer base before would have mainly been local, although our tourist visitor rates in the city have increased dramatically since 2013 City of Culture year leading to a lot more travelling customers from all parts of the country and further afield.
HAVE YOU FACED ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES TO DATE?
Challenges we face in the industry as an independent trader are the high VAT rates and extortionate property rates placed upon us.
The shortage of skilled labour is also an issue the country is faced with, and is continuing to become a problem due to the shortage of younger people coming through our colleges etc.
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR RESTAURANT STAND OUT FROM COMPETITORS?
We have a very strong presence on social media, which we continuously refresh and change.
The new Strand Road site is quite unique compared to other restaurants, as we offer an all-day dining option from early morning breakfast right through to our evening service. The addition of our Delicatessen with local produce on offer and food to go also allows us to have a particular USP.
HOW WAS TRADE OVER THE PAST YEAR?
We have only opened on Strand Road in November so can’t really comment but trade has been fabulous since opening. But as a whole, Primrose has traded great the last year and continues to grow as a brand.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR RESTAURANT DEVELOPING THIS YEAR?
We have a lot more plans for the new site, which we will keep under wraps at the moment, but our focus will shift to a plan for the round-the-world Clipper Race, which docks with us mid-July. We have previously experienced one of the races two years ago as our quayside location is only 30 yards away from the pontoon on which they arrive and, with visitor numbers into tens of thousands, to see the boats really is a spectacle and needs a few months planning to ensure we maximise the potential business the boats bring to our doorstep.
Mon-Sat: 8am to 9:30pm
Sun: 10am to 6pm
Tel: 02871 373744
Primrose on the Quay
Mon-Sat: 8am to 6pm (winter); 8am-9pm (summer)
Tel: 02871 365511
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