Burger Masters - The Hatch, Newcastle, Co Down

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When the wind comes roaring down the 850 metres from the summit of Slieve Donard and pummels the trippery town of Newcastle in south County Down, you start to worry that it is going to pick up The Hatch, Colin and Bronagh Johnson’s handsome food truck, and toss it casually into the nearby cedar trees.
Such are the perils of the food truck life, so on the busy Saturday evening when we turn up, Colin and Bronagh have to put up the shutters – literally! – to stop the winds from extinguishing their gas hobs, all the while dealing with orders and trying to get everyone fed and keep everyone happy.
The Hatch is a true truck, moving along the Mourne coastal route, from Kilkeel to Dundrum to Newcastle. Mr Johnson spent 18 years cheffing in the North’s best restaurants before getting his own set of wheels, and his precision and culinary chutzpah is evident in the Hatch’s excellent food – the triple-cooked rooster fries; the scampi pakora; the crispy squid with house pickle; the panko breaded haddock.
And, of course, the Hatch guys really know how to make a burger special, using Mourne shorthorn beef counterpointed by an excellent tomato relish and smoked cheese on a brioche bun. It’s a sweet, gorgeous feast, and the fries are benchmark good.
Fortunately, the Slieve Donard Mistral didn’t unhinge The Hatch on that wild Saturday evening, though it did force Colin and Bronagh to shut up shop early as the weather got worse. No worries: their fans will be ready and waiting in Dundrum and Kilkeel and Newcastle, hoping for some sunshine, and a Hatch burger.