The Old Schoolhouse Inn in Comber, run by 27 year old chef Will Brown, has won the prestigious Grub Club Restaurant of The Year 2013/14 Award, confirming it’s position as one of the best restaurants in Ireland.
Established over 30 years ago, the Grub Club is an exclusive private dining club, which scours the whole of Northern Ireland to find the very best restaurants that the region has to offer. With strict criteria to select its winner based on the excellent calibre, integrity and innovation of its entire food, beverage and service offering, the Grub Club celebrates culinary excellence at its best. Past winners have included Deane’s, Shanks and Roscoff.
The award win comes at an exciting time for the Old Schoolhouse Inn as this week chef Will Brown confirmed plans for a new ‘fine dining’ restaurant on site, which is set to open in the spring. The 30-seater restaurant, which will be known as Will Brown at The Schoolhouse, will introduce a whole new food offering, with a stunning menu of new dishes, fine wines and cheeses served at the high standard that the restaurant is currently well known for.
The existing restaurant will become The Schoolhouse Bistro and will continue to serve local classic dishes as well as the popular five-course tasting menu. Plans also include a new kitchen and a polytunnel where the majority of fresh ingredients will be grown.
Will commented: “Winning the Grub Club Restaurant of The Year Award is a real honour – I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved at The Old Schoolhouse Inn and am delighted that the hard work we put into our food is being recognised.
“Off the back of this award, there’s no better time for us to announce the launch of our new fine dining restaurant – Will Brown at The Schoolhouse - which will open in March. We will continue to offer customers the same local classics along with the popular tasting menu in the main restaurant - which will be renamed The Schoolhouse Bistro - however the new fine dining restaurant will give us the opportunity to show what we are really capable of in terms of technicality and flair, which should appeal to both our current customers and hopefully some new ones too.
“At The Schoolhouse Bistro we will be serving an even wider range of great dishes but at local prices - from burgers and salads through to favourites like Strangford lough mussels and beef bourguignon. The Bistro signature dish is one that I hope everyone will want to try - a lobster hotdog.”
Will Brown took over The Old Schoolhouse Inn in 2012 and in that time has succeeded in firmly placing it on the culinary map having received several accolades to date; the restaurant has been named as one of the top 100 restaurant in Ireland, Will has been named one of the top 10 chefs in Ireland and he has also been tabbed as one to watch by culinary guide, Bridgestone. Will’s success has also extended to television thanks to him taking in part in Great British Menu 2013 where he reached the final heat in London and was nominated as one of Northern Ireland’s top three chefs.
The Old Schoolhouse Inn is Will Brown’s first restaurant, bringing together 10 years of experience in London and Ireland. He started his cooking career at the tender age of 17 when he joined the team at Marco Pierre White’s Mirabelle, since then he has trained at a myriad of Michelin starred restaurants within the UK and Ireland including The Square, Mayfair, Gordon Ramsey’s Maze, The Glasshouse for Bruce Poole and Roscoff for Paul Rankin. Head Chef, Will Brown uses the best of Ulster’s produce to create simple yet accomplished dishes which reflect their Irish heritage.