New Autumn Menu at Harvey’s Point
We have just launched our new Autumn Menu in the Lakeside Restaurant, created by senior sous chef Colin McKee; a rising young star who is making waves on the Irish food scene. Responsible for the design and execution of the fine dining concept at Harvey’s Point, Colin’s culinary journey has brought him from having a part-time job as a kitchen porter, to winning a silver medal in the famous Culinary Olympics in London, to his current title as the ‘Best Chef in Donegal’ presented by the Restaurants Association of Ireland. I had a lovely chat with Colin about his story and his passion for cooking.
What inspires you about cooking?
I get most of my ideas when I am out walking my dogs. It gives me great pleasure to create and cook. My mother taught me the best of Irish cooking and I enjoy blending traditional with modern methods of preparing food. I do research by reading cookery books and watching cookery programmes. Cooking makes me happy.
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of cooking?
Using the freshest of produce, I believe in making the ingredients speak for themselves. I cook with love and attention to detail. The most important aspect for us in the restaurant is to ‘cook for our customers’ not for our ego or to get too stuck on following trends. Seasonality and simplicity is the key.
Describe the Lakeside Restaurant at Harvey’s Point
Food is central to the Harvey’s Point Experience. Blessed with a magical location on the shores of Lough Eske, our restaurant is the heart and soul of the hotel. The drama of the theatre-style open kitchen is balanced by the calm waters of Lough Eske, often with swans gliding by while you dine. The Lakeside Restaurant is elegant and formal without being fussy. We are very lucky to have Orhan and his great team, who ensure that every guest is welcomed and looked after, with warm, friendly and professional service. From my perspective, I am delighted to have the support of our head chef, Chris Mc Menamin and all the team who work with me. Chris has a great saying “One Dream, One Team”.
What excites you about Autumn?
At this time of the year, there is an amazing harmony of autumnal flavours and textures where the beauty of nature can really shine on a plate. My challenge and passion is to design dishes that are wholesome and hearty but that are still fine and delicate.
What are your favourite dishes on the Autumn Menu?
I love working with venison at this time of year. Our pink loin of venison has all the gamey flavours of Autumn and the parsnip, pear, port and mascarpone really make this dish sing. The purple potato is a colourful and healthy vegetarian option. Our supplier is Maria Flynn from Ballymakenny Farm, Drogheda. The tasting of guinea fowl with shallot, pear, meadowsweet and polenta is getting lots of compliments from our guests. For dessert, I love the malt biscuit parfait with honeycomb and blackberries.
Donegal as a Foodie Destination
There has never been a better time to visit Donegal, with food becoming an integral part of the fabric of our culture, woven like the tweed for which our county is famous. There is a connection to the land, air and sea and to the men and women who have lived off them for generations before us. Gone are the days of ‘meat, two veg and a mountain of spuds’. The foodie scene in Donegal is vibrant, innovative and going from strength to strength. Chefs and restaurants are championing local food and artisan producers on their menus. Local food tourism initiatives such as ‘A Taste of Donegal’ present us with a platform to fly the flag for our region and position us as a high quality and competitive tourism destination with food as one of our unique selling points.