Monday, November 8, 2021

Lunch in Ardmore's Cliff House Hotel a celebration of Irish producers

Lunch in Ardmore's Cliff House Hotel

 a celebration of Irish producers

It was a dull Saturday when we arrived in Ardmore for our lunch reservation at the spectacularly situated Cliff House Hotel, just 50 minutes from the eastern side of Cork City. We took a walk around the town and the beach, just to stretch the legs and work up an appetite (doesn’t take much!).

A warm welcome awaited us at the Michelin starred Cliff and we walked down a level from reception to the bar - the main restaurant does dinner while the bar does all the meals (including their own dinner menu in the evening from 6.00pm). 

Lunch time by the way is12:30-15:00. Quite a few people were sitting on the outside tables as the temperature was up around 16 or 17 degrees Celsius but we were happy with our indoor perch, very comfortable chairs in a very comfortable room with a fine view over the bay.

Cliff House (above) and Café Lavinal (Bages, Medoc).

We had determined to try out the main courses here. Our server obviously anticipated that we’d be waiting a while so soon we had a few slices of their excellent brown bread at hand. Enjoyed that very much indeed.

We could have had a starter of course. The list included Soup of the Day and Seafood Chowder and also Harty’s Oysters (Gin Mignonette). Also on the list were rather substantial plates such as the Cliff Toastie, Chicken Goujon Wrap, a Roast Squash & Halloumi Wrap, along with a Garden Beetroot salad featuring Ardsallagh goats cheese. All sandwiches are served with organic salad leaves and coleslaw.

The mains are more like a dinner plate. Sample dishes - the menu varies - include steak, hake, fish and chips and a very tempting Stuffed Courgette (with Ratatouille, crispy kale, sautéed mushrooms and spinach).

After that anticipated wait, we enjoyed two of the best main courses around, not very Instagrammable perhaps but very appetising indeed. They were the Chicken Supreme, mash potato, ratatouille, tarragon jus (25) and the Confit Duck Leg, roast cabbage, celeriac, gratin potato, port sauce (23).

The Chicken may have lacked colours but the flavours were amazing and the interplay between the well-constructed ratatouille and the top notch poultry was a match made in paradise. And that creamy mash potato was another heavenly enhancement. 

Reminded me of the lunch-time Traditional Chicken Fricassee and Dauphinoise Potatoes that we enjoyed in the village of Bages in the Medoc a few years back. Neither dish was earth-shattering but each was excellent and the produce was top notch and was really properly cooked and presented, with the nod going to the Cliff House. 

Cabbage and confit duck leg is another of those pairings that bring a meal to a higher level. The only problem with the Port sauce was that there wasn’t enough of it while the gratin, with its middle layer of bacon and cabbage, was another well-executed, well judged, component for a super dish. No shortage of sides and we shared a  pot of their excellent Twice Cooked Chips.

Stripes in the Ardmore Beach car-park.

The short dessert list included Irish Farm House Cheese (12.00). Also on, each at 10.50, were Apple Crumble, and Pannacotta plus our shared Tiramisu which was a bit of a letdown following the main courses, too much mascarpone in the jar perhaps, leaving me sorry I hadn’t picked those Harty oysters at the start. 

But it is the Chicken and Duck Leg Confit that will linger long in the taste memory. It confirms that new Executive Head Chef Ian Doyle (appointed last year) is living up to his promise to serve meals that are “very local, seasonal and simple, with no more than three or four ingredients on the plate — a celebration of Irish producers.” Harty's Oyster, Glenilen, Highbank Orchards and Goatsbridge are among Irish producers listed on the website here.

And Irish drink producers are also being supported here. We weren’t drinking of course but good to note that the local Dungarvan Brewing Company had quite a few bottles on the list. Their Helvick Gold Blonde Ale is on draught as is the Wicklow Wolf Elevation Pale Ale and Arcadia. No draught cider but the local Legacy is available in bottle, either medium or dry.

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