‘An Inspiring Place to Work’ – Hillsborough Castle

Northern Ireland’s leading outside caterer, The Yellow Door, recently beat off stiff competition to win the five year contract at the newly opened and refurbished Hillsborough Castle and Gardens in Co. Down.

The Yellow Door will now be providing all catering services at the Hillsborough Castle Café and the Stable Yard Tea Room.

Simon Dougan and his partner in this venture, Barry Smith, who won a Michelin star whilst at the helm of his Oriel restaurant in Gilford, operate two restaurants at the Estate – which is Northern Ireland’s only Royal residence.

The Hillsborough Café has a large service area with salad station, extensive hot food offering and an array of local drinks including craft cider, ale and fruit juices. There is a range of cakes and desserts including the signature cake, which is a caramelised pineapple gateau, inspired by the pineries uncovered during the refurbishment, and the original hot wall which runs through the middle of the restaurant. The restaurant is accessible via the A1 with free car parking and free entry to the visitor centre with a retail shop.

The second restaurant, which has just opened, is the Stable Yard Tea Room situated inside a courtyard next to the castle itself. The Stable Yard Tea Room, as the name suggests, is a classic tea room with 12 varieties of loose-leaf Suki tea and dainty patisserie and cakes. There are also daily savoury items such as soup, sandwiches and pies. Entry to this area is through paid admission at the visitor centre or the castle entrance in the village square. Paid entry allows access to the gardens, including the four acre walled garden, and extensive walks within the estate.

Simon and Barry are sticklers for local ingredients. Incredibly, they have access to the produce from the walled kitchen garden, of which 70% is edible. That’s great news for Simon’s green-fingered wife Jilly who designs, builds and tends edible gardens for a living. Jilly is working alongside Adam Ferguson, the keeper of the walled garden, to help produce heritage and unusual varieties of vegetables, fruit and herbs for use in the new restaurants.

Expect daily changing menus based on local and seasonal produce and what is available from the walled garden. “You just can’t get any fresher than that; it’s an inspiring place to work,” said Barry.

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