Start in style
Set your sights on County Cavan, where celebrity chef Neven Maguire creates culinary wonders at MacNean House. Braised beef featherblade with oxtail gel, scallops and pork cheek, and chestnut velouté with parmesan puff are all on the menu during this gastronomic journey.
At The Old Convent, overlooking Tipperary's Knockmealdown Mountains, you’re in for a double serving of glamour – stay overnight in the sumptuous suites and you experience dinner in The Chapel Dining Room. The 8-course tasting menu showcases the best of Irish artisan produce: whipped Cooleeney Camembert with plum and truffle syrup, garlic-crumb baked cod with a summer vegetable vierge and cocoa pudding dripping with Zéphyr caramel – absolute heaven.
A visit to the restaurant at Longford's Viewmount House is the epitome of luxury. Built in the old stables, the bright and airy space calls to mind the old-world grandeur of this Georgian manor. Feast on chef Gary O’Hanlon’s seasonal menu, including buttery pan-fried hake from Donegal's Tory Island and Longford’s finest pork scaloppini with pickled local vegetables.
Brocka on the Water, image © Sinead Cahalan, One Little Studio
There are three words on everyone’s lips when describing Brocka on the Water in Nenagh, County Tipperary – fresh, tasty and authentic. This waterside restaurant is run right out of a family home by the delightful Anne Gernon, with food crafted lovingly from local produce and the organic garden attached.
It was like being invited to the best dinner party ever, so homely and amazing attention to detail.
In the quiet and picturesque town of Clonegal in County Carlow, you probably wouldn’t expect to find a culinary heavyweight. Having been featured on the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand, the Sha-Roe Bistro proves yet again that big surprises come in small packages, with a perfect atmosphere and delicious food. Our recommendation? The pan-fried scallops and monkfish with prawn bisque.
Pay a visit to The Tannery in Dungarvan, County Waterford. Restaurant and cooking school combined, the simple surrounds don’t give away the explosion of flavour that chef Paul Flynn serves up with every morsel. The seafood really shines in this waterfront restaurant – sample Harty’s oysters with Gubbeen chorizo, crack open crab créme brulee and dig in to charred cod with samphire. Divine. Before leaving this corner of Ireland’s Ancient East, head to Henry Downes Bar in Waterford city. Founded in 1759, it has all the hallmarks of a great Irish pub and they bottle their own whiskey. Passing through without sampling Henry Downes’ No.9 is practically a crime.
In an age of gastro pubs and trendy distressed bars with quaint Irishness Downes offers a great pint in a friendly atmosphere.
Sage, found in Midleton, County Cork, has a unique philosophy: everything eaten here has to come from within 12 miles of the front door. This ethos results in an ever-changing menu that can only be described as delicious. Imagine dipping chips fried in beef dripping into fresh green onion aioli, cutting into a perfectly orange egg yolk atop house favourite black pudding, and the sweet creaminess of a white chocolate and goats cheese cheesecake – bliss!
Round out your trip at Scholar’s Townhouse in County Louth, where simple techniques bring out the very best flavours in local produce – Atlantic scallops, Irish Hereford beef and Irish cheeses served with sweet Boyne Valley honey are all on the menu. The decadent surroundings mirror the food, with oak panels, local art and, if you look up as you dine, handpainted frescoes on the ceiling depicting the Battle of the Boyne.
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