The Lake Hotel. A Favourite in a Favoured Place
Killarney’s Lake Hotel has an exquisite location, right on the shore, parade of mountains on view. As you dine, you’ll note it also has its own mini-peninsula with the ruins of a castle. Well, maybe you’ll note it between courses, as otherwise you’ll be fully engaged with the brilliant dishes coming from the kitchen team under Executive Chef Noel Enright and you’ll taste why they’ve been awarded with two AA Rosettes for four consecutive years.
We hadn’t visited with over a decade but got a very warm welcome indeed from the reception staff and the goodbye was just as genuine. We still had warm memories of our previous visit so we upgraded our room to lake view and that brought the total for dinner (including a free glass of prosecco), bed and breakfast, to €209.00. Delighted then that they added a complimentary bottle of wine (I think all tables got one or perhaps it was just returning visitors - I’m not sure).
The room was spacious and comfortable and had all the bits and pieces you’d expect and the bathroom was also well equipped. We stepped out onto the balcony to take in the splendid views from left to right, the castle, the deer in the mid distance. Soon we were strolling out to the edge of the peninsula and getting an even closer look at the waters and the mountains. Not so sunny tough but somewhat better the following morning.
Dinner was booked for seven and, with our masks on, we were led to a table by the window, both chairs angled to that each of us could enjoy the view. Soon we were unmasked, and had water, breads and that prosecco (with strawberry afloat) on the table. The menu covered most bases and there were a couple of specials as well. Quite a choice of house wines (4 red, 4 white, 1 rosé) to choose our complimentary bottle from and we settled on a Chilean Merlot.
|Poached Pear starter|
The dining commenced with a tasty amuse bouche and two fine appetisers (from quite a list) followed. The Poached Pear (roasted pecans, date compote, blue cheese ice cream, balsamic and walnut vinaigrette) looked impressive and didn’t deceive. And the other, the Carrigcleena Free Range Duck Plate (smoked breast, confit leg croquette, liver parfait, poached black cherry, and red vein sorrel) was also an accomplished combination, all the duck variations superb and that cherry had a nice little alcoholic kick to it.
While major suppliers, such as Pallas Foods and La Rousse, are listed, it was good to see local producers and suppliers such as Eve’s Leaves (organic salads), Spillane’s Seafood, Paul Walker (free range pork) and Cronin’s Butchers on the list along with Carrigcleena of course.
By now, darkness was settling in and we were watching out for the deer to cross in front of the dining room but that didn’t happen! In any event we didn’t see them. Perhaps we were too engrossed in the food as the mains were both excellent.
CL choose the Slow Cooked Featherblade of Beef (butternut squash purée, shallot petals, roasted heritage carrot, pancetta crumb and beef just). Perfectly cooked and full of flavour, it was an excellent example of the dish.
My pick, from the specials list, was the Slow Cooked Pork Belly (tender-stem broccoli, Poached peach, crispy potato, and red wine). It was indeed rather special, perfectly executed and that peach was a surprise yet very welcome element in the indulgent ensemble.
Desserts can be rather much of muchness but the descriptions here promised something more and that feeling was reinforced by the earlier dishes. Again the kitchen came up trumps. From the four on offer - they also had an Irish cheeseboard - we picked two. And weren’t disappointed, far from it.
The Dingle Gin Baba and Chamomile Cream (Blackberry sorbet, meringue) was a delicious delight while the slightly heavier Roasted Fig and Crème Fraiche Custard (thyme ice cream, Pistachio pastry) was another treat. And there was still more to come, a selection of petit fours to linger over as the darkness cloaked the mountain tops and then filled in the the gaps below.
We were back in the same room, even close to the same table, for breakfast, and this time there was a hint of sun in the view of the lake and surrounds. Covid restrictions were again in play but there was a buffet to start with.
There was a small queue and a rope that kept you at distance. Inside the little barrier, servers filled your granola, your fruit, sometimes giving you more than you’d give yourself. By the time I got back for the mains, I asked that my Full Irish be confined to one of each and so it was. There was something rustic about the puddings (black and white), the plump sausage and the rasher, something really wholesome and they were full of flavour and robust texture. Very good indeed! And so we were well set up for our next venture, a walk to the waterfalls at Gleninchaquin (near Kenmare).
While the long dining room is airy and bright, much of the Castlelough Restaurant was built as part of the original house in 1820. It has high ceilings, large ornate mirrors and cornice work which reminds one of the great country houses of the past when dinner was the highlight of the day and ball gowns and black tie were the usual attire. Without a doubt, the most eye-catching feature of this magnificent room is the vast windows which span the full room, from one end to the other, ensuring that all are reminded of the breathtaking scenery just beyond the hotel.
Find more info on the hotel and its facilities here . And, while you’re online, it may be worth your while checking out their October and November offers. Might be doing that myself!