Meet Niall McKenna

Niall has been working in Belfast since 2000 when he returned home after working with Gary Rhodes, The Firmdale Hotel Group alongside Nico Landesis and Marco Pierre White.

With a passion and expert knowledge of food Niall opened his first restaurant James Street South in 2003 winning awards and plaudits not just for his food, menus and service, but for his expertly refurbished dining room designed by Aidan McGrath, alongside outstanding contemporary Irish Art.

Niall’s support for local produce since 2003 has enabled a strong message that local northern Irish produce is not only second to none, but one of the most sustainable actions all of us can make, which is buying local.

In 2011 Niall opened a more casual dining experience with the Bar + Grill at James Street South, enabling both restaurants to deliver great food to a wider audience. Private Dining rooms and a Cookery School were opened in the same year on the first and second floors of the new restaurant.

In 2013 Hadskis was opened in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter followed by Cast and Crew in Titanic Quarter. Both restaurants delivered great food one with a European flair, countertop service and the latter more a get up and go place. Both have since closed. In 2018 with the increase in tourism Niall remodelled his James Street South premises into one restaurant with private dining rooms, on the ground floor and first floor, calling it James St.

Since 2019 Niall has embarked on his biggest project to date which is Waterman House, incorporating a Cookery School, Events spaces and tasting rooms alongside a restaurant.

In 2014 Niall launched his own Chef Apprenticeship scheme, dedicating time, energy and passion to passing on his knowledge and skills to a new generation of future cooks.

Niall has won numerous awards over the years for his cooking, the restaurants and has a natural ability to showcase the best of cooking using local, seasonal ingredients.

Niall is a Tourism Hero and has an honorary diploma from Belfast Metropolitan College and has been visiting professorship from Belfast University of Ulster since 2017.

Niall has featured in many local Television programs from Great British Menu, winning the opportunity to cook for Prince Charles and Camilla, alongside a weekly recipe column in The Irish News.