Food lovers know Anthony Gray as the man behind his two fine Sligo restaurants – Eala Bhan in the town itself, and Tra Bhan, out in pretty Strandhill. But there is more to Mr Gray’s bow than just restaurants. In recent years, he has headed up a dedicated activism in Sligo circles, campaigning for and championing the cause of Sligo food, tourism and local politics. His work is a reminder of the fact that the most significant people in Irish food have always been politically engaged, and yet somehow manage to ensure that their restaurants are producing beautiful food for their customers. Mr Gray loves the ingredients of County Sligo, and in Eala Ban those fine North Western foods are curated and cooked with sympathy, and served with innate hospitality and generosity, in the real spirit of Sligo.
The cooking in Eala Bhán is ambitious and imaginative – black and white pudding lasagne; beetroot carpaccio with goat's cheese fritters; 8-hour braised Sligo pork belly with orange and star anise; pan-seared scallops with kataifi prawns; rack of Sligo lamb with thyme mash; lobster linguini – and there is a smart, city-like room in which to enjoy the kitchen's modern riffs on great classic dishes. Smart children’s menus make Eala Bhán a great choice for families, but the room feels right whatever the occasion that brings you in the door. Meanwhile, out in Strandhill at Tra Bhán, the cooking is simpler – spicy chicken wings; fillet steak with garlic butter; supreme of chicken with pesto mash – and it's just the right thing before you head downstairs to enjoy some great music.
Anthony Gray is the champion of Sligo, tirelessly advocating for his beautiful city and county.
First three photos credit Julia Dunin
More along the Sligo coast
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