The Yellow Pepper is an eclectic restaurant in a former home of a successful 19th century shirt factory, on the shores of Lough Swilly. It’s the restored rustic jewel in the town’s crown, with two diligent, industrious, conscientious individuals at the heart of its unwavering success.
Having opened their doors in 1994, Carol Meenan and Kieran Davis have a few sacred objectives from which they do not falter. Carol’s enthusiasm is infectious and it isn’t difficult deciphering that her intention is based on delivering fresh food, procured from this region of Donegal - and never outside the boundaries of Ulster.
Their home on the Ramelton Road - gateway to the beautiful Fanad peninsula - nods in the direction of River Cottage. There, Kieran grows fresh vegetables and fruit, organically, all of which are destined the ever-changing lunch and dessert menus. Herbs and salads are ardently foraged –and if that isn’t enough, they even keep their own bees – described by Kieran as ‘a curious man’s hobby’…
Fivemiletown (just across the border in Co Tyrone) supply the restaurant with a mild, creamy, smoky, goats-cheese. Wrapped in cured ham with freshly picked salad in a balsamic reduction, this is a winning starter. Unless of course your penchant is for expertly cooked tempura prawns in a light batter, again accompanied by a freshly picked salad from the owner’s garden – all served with homemade soda bread made from organic flour.
It would be remiss before main course not to sample one of the many local craft beers on offer: Kinnegar, deriving its name from one of Donegal’s most beautiful beaches, is probably one of the most popular beers available in the county. Carol suggested I try a gin from Kilcar, a romantic village in south Donegal; home to thatch cottages, Irish music, Sliabh Liag cliff-tops – and now it would seem, An Dulaman Irish Maritime Gin
Following these liquid delights, it was time for the main. Himself opted for organic chicken skewers that were served with a variety of roasted vegetables from the garden and served with a homemade Satay sauce.
I opted for the ‘full’ Seafood Platter which will take a bit of beating on the old review trail.
Made up of salt & chilli dusted squid, fleshy lobster, ultra-tender crab meat, creamy chowder, mussels, and served with customary fresh salad leaves and homemade cocktail sauce – each and every piece is sourced locally, sometimes from Kincasslagh, a seaside village in the Rosses, in the Gaeltacht area.
It’s important to add at this point that variations of the aforementioned platter are available throughout the menu, and also for starters, along with a plethora of other deliciousness I intend to work through over the next few months, when back home visiting Donegal.
Moving on, Himself would probably recommend the Sticky Toffee pudding, since he demolished it. I had another locally sourced delight which I was reliably informed is fast becoming one of Ireland’s healthier choices of dessert: Homemade Irish Carraigin Moss Pudding, this is a garden compote, gathered from the shoreline and delivered in a rustic jam jar with fresh Irish cream.
Can I fault this friendly, wonderful establishment? No, it delivers what it says on the menu. The Yellow Pepper is reasonably priced, given the quality of produce on offer and Carol and Kieran support all things local and work with other foodies and organisations who share their values.
They delight in sharing their passion for food-integrity and ensure the consumption of local, seasonable fayre. They have been doing this for decades and we wish them good luck for what is bound to be a bright future.