Splendid Sunday Lunch
I was glad to hear that Sunday Lunch had resumed in Barnabrow and great too to find out recently (24.04.22) that the standard is as high as ever. It is all quite the occasion, the well coordinated confluence of excellent staff, top notch produce and a skilful kitchen, all combining to serve up a leisurely lunch of three courses plus tea or coffee (with petit fours).
Barnabrow means "Top of the Fairy Fort” and reigned over by the Fairy of Cloyne. Now, thanks to the magic, not to mention the hard work, of owner Geraldine Kidd who has been restoring and developing the ancient house and its surrounding acres over the past 26 years, Barnabrow stands strong and ready to serve again following the Covid 19 onslaught.
After working in London, Geraldine came to visit Ballymaloe (next door to Barnabrow), saw the melons growing in the greenhouse, "an epiphany moment", and signed up for a three months course.
She added to her cooking experience with a stint in the Arbutus and also worked with Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso and also in Midleton’s Farmgate. She bought Barnabrow in the mid 90s. It has proved very popular as a wedding venue.
Sunday lunch is not the only sign that the big house is finding its place in the East Cork food diary again. Back in September, Geraldine welcomed a group to the opening of her Tea Rooms in the main house. Here, customers now enjoy Afternoon Tea and there’s also the option of a light lunch. Check out the details here.
The Sunday Lunch venue is in the main restaurant. This church-like building stands alone and is also used for the wedding receptions for which the house is quite well-known.
After a warm welcome, we started to study the menu as we nibbled on some of their lovely breads. I got off to a terrific start with my Oak Smoked Salmon with roast beetroot, wasabi cream and a poppy seed Dorito. A really superb opener, the salmon excellent, even the beetroot, from their own garden, was magnificent.
CL meanwhile was happily engaged with her Clonakilty Black Pudding Salad with green apple, Feta, crispy potatoes and spiced tomato dressing. Quite a lot going on there but all in delicious harmony. Also available were Ardsallagh Goats Cheese (with confit red onion and Kalamata Olive tapenade, hazelnuts) and a Tomato and Roast Red Pepper Soup with Toasted Almonds.
As you see, local producers are well supported and that continued into the mains. Mine was magnificent: Roast Striploin of O’Connell’s Beef, truffle potato, ragout of Ballyhoura Mushrooms and shallots, and a red wine jus. The beef was perfect, tender and so well cooked, and enhanced no end by a notable jus. A compelling combination.
Pan roast supreme of chicken was CL’s choice and that came with Chive mash, Cannellini Beans, Chorizo cassoulet and Port reduction. Quite a chicken dish, well executed and, like mine, accompanied by a packed dish of roasties and root vegetables (all nicely cooked, not too soft, not too hard). There was also a fish option and a veggie option of a Wild Mushroom Ragout.
The finalé wasn’t half bad. We enjoyed a Lemon Tart with Raspberry Coulis and also Chocolate Marquise, spiced oranges and crystallised nuts before finishing off with Bewley's coffee (Barry’s tea was also an option) and Petit Fours.
Kids are often at Sunday lunches and here they may have half portions of the adult dishes plus a few other options. For the big boys and girls, there is a short list of red and white wines.
Geraldine likes nothing better than to see her guests stroll around the grounds and meet the other inhabitants. The donkeys have long been popular here but it seems the friendly pygmy goats (relatively recently introduced) are now getting a lot of attention. Enjoy your food and the visit.
Barnabrow is on the Shanagarry Road out of Cloyne, about ten minutes from the Lakeview roundabout on the N25 at Midleton. More here.