Great British Menu's Chris McGowan plans new restaurant

04 September 2015 by
Great British Menu's Chris McGowan plans new restaurant

Chef Chris McGowan is to launch a restaurant in Moira in his native Northern Ireland next month, called Wine and Brine.

The new venture will showcase pickled, brined and fermented foods using Northern Irish produce in a contemporary way.

McGowan, who is appearing in the current series of BBC TV show Great British Menu, has acquired the freehold to a Georgian-fronted building on the main street in Moira to house the venture.

The 3,500 sq ft site, which was previously a restaurant but has lain derelict for around the last four years, will have space for around 90 covers downstairs and a further 60 and a private room upstairs.

Located around 20 minutes from Belfast, the restaurant will offer snacks at around £3-4, starters at £6-9 and mains at around £10-£17 from a seasonally driven menu that will change on a weekly basis.

McGowan returned to Northern Ireland last year having spent 12 years working for Richard Corrigan, many of which were spent as Corrigan's chef director. He spent eight years at the Michelin-starred Lindsay House before Corrigan moved to Mayfair, where McGowan spent nearly five more years.

Prior to that, he was sous chef for Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire, and spent nearly five years working for Gary Rhodes before that.

"I have spent 20 years in London chasing my dream, which was great, but it was about time to give something back, so it was about trying to get a better work life balance," said McGowan about his return to Northern Ireland.

"Also, the restaurant scene in Northern Ireland has really moved on. We have always had great produce here, it's just that sometimes it hasn't always been showcased in the light that it should have been. But there is quite a good young restaurant scene that has emerged here in the last couple of years so it just made sense for me."

Speaking about Wine and Brine, he said: "It is using a lot of traditional cooking methods and pickling and brining and fermenting methods. Some of the produce over here is absolutely stunning and we just want to treat it really sympathetically and do the product justice but do it with a little bit of ingenuity and flair. We are hoping to open in the second week of October.

"We just want a really nice casual vibe to the place. We have knocked the walls down and opened up the kitchen so the kitchen is going to be part of the restaurant."

McGowan added that appearing on Great British Menu had been a "great experience" and that in addition to the publicity that he hopes the show will bring, he has thrown himself into the summer food festivals in Northern Ireland to help get his name and the name of the restaurant into the public eye.

Further into the future, the chef is also looking at opening a cookery school and bistro at Gillhall mansion, a 500-acre estate near Dromore owned by his friend Bill Porter. Porter has plans to bring the estate back to its former glory and there are plans for the cookery school and bistro to be located in outbuildings on the estate.

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