Enjoying (mostly) the good life at Killarney's Aghadoe Heights
Friday, September 11th, in this year of Covid, found us dining in the Lake Room of the Aghadoe Heights Hotel in Killarney. There were over 80 others, socially distanced, in the large bright room with its splendid view (not everybody gets the same view!) over the lakes below. And it was the same story in the adjoining room, the more “casual” Heights Lounge and Piano Bar.
Our Lake Room menu was fairly restricted as regards choice but the quality was excellent all through, from Amuse Bouche to Dessert. Our wines, chosen from the by-the-glass groups, about five each of red and white, were the intensely fruity Pionero Mundi Albarino (10.50) and the vibrant fruit-driven Old Coach Road Pinot Noir from Nelson in New Zealand (11.50). Dinner (three courses with tea/coffee) comes to €59.50 per person. The Amuse Bouche and Sorbet are included.
There were 6 starters in all, including Oysters and Crab Claws, both supplemented. Another included Avocado so I passed on that. But I must say I hit the jackpot with the Burrata Salad with Peaches and Basil. The peaches were surprisingly effective in the delicious ensemble. And our other starter was equally satisfactory: Chicken Croquette with celeriac remoulade and pomegranate. Next up was the lovely unlisted treat of a Champagne Sorbet.
There were just five main dishes to choose from and two of those were beef. Another was seabass which I skipped. This is usually imported and I cannot imagine why the hotel, so close to the lakes and ocean, doesn’t have at least one Irish fish on the menu.
My pick was the Irish Hereford Sirloin Steak with glazed ox cheek, onion, roasted carrots and Béarnaise sauce and it was quite a splendid plateful, well cooked and presented, the cheek a bonus. CL meanwhile was enjoying her Supreme of Chicken with crispy polenta and green beans, another excellent combination. Also on the table were two sides of seasonal vegetables and one of gratin potato.
Service had been excellent up to this point but then our table seemed to become invisible. Eventually, we had to ask for someone to take the dessert order and its delivery took just as long again, 40 minutes in all.
The list, another short one, was hardly inspiring with usual suspects such as Apple Crumble, Tiramisu and Chocolate Fondant appearing. I went for the Raspberry Millefeuille and I’d go for it again. Somewhat different from the usual effort and really excellent.
Later, we slept well in a spacious and well-equipped room and enjoyed the morning views over Lough Leane below from the balcony. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy these views as there is a public viewing area with car park. Just head out the Killorglin Road from Killarney town, turn right for Dingle and then right again and it will be on your right with the hotel on the left.
As you know these days, all meals in hotels have to be booked so we were back in the Lake Room for breakfast at 9.00am. Very surprised to find they were operating a buffet, a buffet where you served yourself from uncovered receptacles and where those that needed toast all handled the toaster controls and those that wanted pastries or cheese or salamis used the thongs provided at each stop. Same with the juice dispensers. There was a small hand sanitiser available at the start of the queue.
Back at the table, we ordered our hot breakfasts from the kitchen, Both the dishes, the Eggs Royale (with smoked salmon) and the Pancakes with maple syrup and berries were faultless.
Soon we were ready to hit the road again but not before a walk out the front to take in the view and a stroll around the hotel to take a final look at its terrific collection of art, including works by Knuttel and Kerry artist Liam O’Neill. Time then to say goodbye to the lovely people who manned the reception, warm and friendly as they had been when we arrived.