The latest addition to a burgeoning line-up of hospitality venues in Holywood is a bright and comfortable new seafood eatery just off the main street. Russell Campbell has been along to the opening night…
Donaghadee restaurateur, Paul Savage, has opened a plush new seafood eatery at Sullivan Place in Holywood, in premises formerly occupied by Enigma, whose owners have now retired.
Anchorage opened its doors in the middle of this month at the top of Sullivan Place, signalling 10 new jobs and adding further momentum to the town’s ongoing food renaissance.
And speaking to LCN during a special evening at the venue for press and suppliers recently, Paul reported that feedback had been very positive:
“We’re getting a lot of very positive comment about the selection, the different style of our menu and the different types of cooking. Our chef, Jordan Dougan, likes to do a lot of pickled vegetables for example, and that goes very well with seafood.”
Paul, who has a background in construction management and is also involved with St. Anne’s Square restaurant, 4th Wall, spent around £50,000 re-fitting the premises. Flooring was updated, bespoke wall panels added and a brand new bar. He also updated the kitchen facilities and re-decorated throughout to create a cool, comfortable and very minimalist effect:
“I would describe it as an eclectic, rustic cave, it’s very dark and romantic,” remarked Paul.
In charge at the new 70-seater venue is Stephen McCausland. He began working for Paul as bar manager at 4th Wall when that restaurant opened towards the end of 2011. Then, after a period spent travelling, he returned to work briefly at The Salty Dog in Bangor before Paul called him and offered him the manager’s job at another of his venues – Gracies – a quirky neighbourhood bistro on the Woodstock Road.
Stephen said that he felt there was strong demand for a good seafood restaurant such as Anchorage in Holywood:
“If you look at this area, you really only have The Boathouse and the Mourne Seafood Bar. An area like Holywood on the coast here really needs a good seafood eatery. We’re really going in strong with some good suppliers – Stillwaters Fishing and Keenan Seafood – and we’re right in the centre of Holywood so we’re hoping for big things.”
“The venue itself is very elegant. We’ve done a proper re-fit using a lot of reclaimed wood in the design. The colour scheme is all teals and browns and it’s really designed to make it reminiscent of an old boat.”
He also feels that the new restaurant is a signal that the Holywood area is enjoying a resurgence:
“Things are definitely picking up in Holywood, it’s really bustling at the moment,” he remarked. “We have a new Little Wing pizza outlet and the old Wine & Co. premises is to be a new restaurant [Johnny the Jig], so it’s all good. And the Holywood people tend to stay in Holywood, so you have a really good catchment area. We’re confident that things are going to go well for us.”
But Anchorage isn’t Paul’s only major investment this year. He is currently planning to spend around £750,000 on a new 1930s, prohibition-style restaurant in Belfast’s Botanic District. The new venue – to be called Johnson’s Avenue – will be a 130-seater venue and should be open by the first week in September.
The Belfast venue will have a hidden cocktail bar on the top floor and an authentic period fit-out complete with red carpet to the front door.
“Botanic is going to be a 1930’s-style high-end bistro offering a fine dining experience with a difference but without the traditional price tag,” said Stephen McCausland. “We’re very excited about this project as well. You’re always trying to predict which will be the next big area in touwn. The 4th Wall, we were into the Cathedral Quarter before it had really begun to grow. Every area will have its lifespan and it’s a case of trying to stay ahead all the time.
As for Anchorage, Stephen says that he’s confident the restaurant can make an early good impression:
“Our head chef, Jordan Dougan, who came from The Salty Dog in Bangor, has been cooking in the kitchen since he was 12 and the individual twist that he gives to many of the dishes that we sell guarantees to make any visit memorable…Our ambition is to have the best seafood restaurant in Northern Ireland and we think that’s achievable. We’ve opened an excellent, high-end restaurant with the service to match and we think people will respond to that.
“As for the future, our main aim is clearly, to grow our business. We want to have people talking about it, travelling to visit it and making it into a real destination venue. We want people to have the same level of experience here that they already have at 4th Wall in town and we think that if we can do that, we will do very well.”
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