Restaurant Profile May 2019: Hara Hillsborough
Roz Allen, co-owner of Hara Hillsborough, talks to HRNI
WHEN DID YOUR RESTAURANT OPEN?
We opened in June 2018. We are a husband and wife chef team. We met in 2012 at Chapter One in Dublin where Andy (Turne) was the head chef, and have worked in lots of great kitchens around the world, but always for other people. We came back to Northern Ireland in 2016 with our new baby and went to work at Meet & Thyme in Hillsborough. We were the chefs there for a year and when the owner decided to sell up, it felt like the right time for us to buy the lease and open up our own place.
WHAT FEEL ARE YOU AIMING FOR?
Hillsborough is a very beautiful heritage village and it was important to respect that feeling, but also that the restaurant was welcoming and friendly; hopefully it feels modern and relaxed.
WHAT’S ON YOUR MENU?
It changes all the time. We start with what our suppliers are offering locally and go from there. At the moment, the spring lamb is starting, mackerel is perfect right now, we have beautiful greens and brassicas coming from Ballynahinch and we’re foraging wild garlic on our (rare) days off, so that’s our starting point this month. We change some things every week and aim for the whole menu to change every three months or so.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO TO IMPROVE AND DRIVE YOUR MENU?
Suppliers are the backbone of our menu. We are always looking for producers in Northern Ireland with the same food values as us, people like Karl at Grain Bakehouse in Dollingstown with his amazing sourdough and Alistair Crown at Corndale farm who makes great artisan charcuterie. We are proud to serve Hannan’s beef and their Shorthorn Sirloin is the one dish we can’t take off the menu. The food landscape has changed beyond all recognition here in recent years and I think the north of Ireland has something really unique to offer in terms of food and hospitality.
WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
Locals. We’re very grateful to be well supported by a great crowd from Hillsborough and the surroundings but we are increasingly seeing people travelling from further afield which is really wonderful.
HAVE YOU FACED ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES TO DATE?
Like a lot of restaurants, it can be a challenge to find the right people for the team but we’ve been pretty lucky so far. Working 16-hour days in a kitchen with your spouse can be a little sticky too…
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR RESTAURANT STAND OUT FROM COMPETITORS?
We don’t think too much about it. It’s just about cooking food that we’re proud of, and providing a great front-of-house experience.
HOW WAS TRADE OVER THE PAST YEAR?
It’s been fantastic. Many guests have stuck with us from the Meet & Thyme days and it’s been growing since we opened.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR RESTAURANT DEVELOPING THIS YEAR?
Our focus now is on fine tuning our product both front of house and in the kitchen. We also have some exciting renovations scheduled for July during our break.
16 Lisburn Street, Hillsborough
Tel: 028 71161467
Email: [email protected]
Fri-Sat: 12-2.30 & 5-9.30pm