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Restaurant review: Artis in Derry where Phelim O’Hagan’s talent burns bright





Artis Craft Village, Shipquay Street, Derry. Tel: 028 71 371635

Chef Phelim O’Hagan wowed audiences on the Great British Menu last year and after watching him in action, I was delighted to discover he has just opened a new sanctuary for foodies in his native Derry.

He has joined forces with businessman and chef Ray Moran to open Artis in the city’s Craft Village, also home to The Cottage Cafe which recently won an award for the best scones in Northern Ireland.

And now the Craft Village can rightly claim to have one of our best fine dining restaurants thanks to Artis. If you haven’t been to the Village with its eclectic mix of artisan craft shops, cafes and restaurants you simply have to visit this little oasis in the middle of the city.

Artis (Latin for craft for those who were wondering) is an elegant and stylish restaurant where the food really does the talking. And throughout the menu the emphasis on local produce is clear with each and every dish.

For starters I enjoyed locally foraged chanterelle mushroom risotto with grilled radicchio, Tirkeeran cheese (a long-aged pasteurised cow’s milk cheese) and apple. Being a huge fan of mushrooms, risotto and cheese, this was always going to be a hit with me, and the flavours worked wonderfully well together. The sweet and crunchy radicchio added texture against the smooth and creamy risotto.

On the other side of the table was a delicious Donegal lobster and prawn ravioli with courgette, Coolatin cheese (a traditional handmade extra mature cheddar) and salted lemon. There may have only been one large ravioli but it was melt-in-the-mouth stuff.

Mains for me was poached cod with baked Kilkeel scallops, confit squash, pumpkin seed and curry dressing.

My dining partner enjoyed the succulent stuffed wild Irish venison saddle with glazed parsnip, broccoli and braised shoulder and barley hot pot.

The cod and scallops, which were perfectly seared, just fell apart in the dish with the mild curry spicing really elevating the flavour of this taste sensation. The centrepiece of the well-executed venison dish was a beautiful dark, medium-cooked saddle which is the ultimate winter comfort food. Packed full of deep gamey flavours, it simply melted in the mouth.

The saddle was quite sizeable for what you would expect in a fine dining restaurant but that isn’t where the venison feast ends, as on the side they serve the braised shoulder hot pot. The different textures and flavours from the slow-cooked shoulder add a further dimension to this dish.

If ordering one thing from the menu, that plate was the star of the show.

We shared a cheeseboard for dessert which showcases three artisan Irish cheeses of varying levels of strengths and textures — Sperrin Blue, Durrus and Ballykisk Triple Rose — served with spiced pear chutney, caramelised red onion and quince. Washed down with a few glasses of Malbec, this was the perfect way to finish such a magnificent meal.

Phelim has boldly declared he wants Artis to help make Derry “a contender for one of the UK’s greatest places to dine in”. After my experience, of both excellent food and service, he is definitely on the right road to achieve this in 2022.

THE Food
Lobster and Prawn Ravioli £12
Mushroom risotto £9
Poached cod £26
Venison saddle £28
Cheeseboard £8
Bottle of Malbec £28
TOTAL £111
Service *****
Food *****
Decor ****
Vegetarian ***

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