EALA BHÁN Proprietor Anthony Gray talks Sligo, seafood and hospitality For the jewel in the crown of Sligo, look no further than Eala Bhán Restaurant in the heart of Sligo Town. The restaurant is situated on the Garavogue River, where patrons of this contemporary eatery can often see the namesake white swans passing by.
For proprietor Anthony Gray, the beautiful Sligo setting is just one part of the puzzle.
“I’m a Sligo man who is very proud of our beautiful scenery and our poetry as well as our local food. My true love is showcasing local and seasonal produce in an artistic environment,” he said. Anthony Gray is a mighty champion of his native Sligo, and is powering the local food revolution. First and foremost, he is a restaurateur, in his benchmark Eala Bhán restaurant, as well as the new Hooked, on Tobergal Lane. But just running excellent restaurants isn’t enough for this champion of Sligo, so Mr Gray is also chairman of the Sligo Food Trail, which has been energetically and effectively putting the dynamic food culture of this beautiful city on the culinary map of Ireland. Best of all, Mr Gray puts the tastes of Sligo and the North West of Ireland right there on your plate, sourcing superb artisan ingredients to complete his picture of a proud, self-contained and ambitious food world. Eala Bhán cooking is lush, rich, soulful and imaginative, with the genius of the place captured and artfully arranged on your plate: 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 lemon buttered scallops or rack of Tubbercurry of Sligo lamb with shallot mash; Mullaghmore 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. Eala Bhán was born in 2011 and has won many accolades including best restaurant 6 years running with the RAI. Anthony said he always had a love of food, but he discovered his love for looking after people while working in his Fathers butcher shop. “What I really do believe in is giving people the wow factor when they come in the door of Hooked or Eala Bhán. My presence is important too, that I’m always there to greet them and talk to our guests. I’m also Wild Atlantic Way Champion and I work closely with Failte Ireland,” he said. “Fresh fish is very important in Sligo. I often go fishing and put on catch of the day and whatever I can catch and source locally goes on the menu, from Mullaghmore to Easky and all the surrounding areas,” he said. Other highlights on the carefully curated menu include crispy sticky Thai beef stir fry, with Sherlock’s of Tubbercurry marinated strips of beef in a crispy batter tossed in lime; or trio of duck and Cashel blue cheese ice cream.