Showing posts with label O'Hara's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label O'Hara's. Show all posts

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Lyrath Estate. Friendly Place. Friendly Faces


Lyrath Estate. 
Friendly Place. Friendly Faces  

Young Rudy
Ringo, Reilly, and Rudy will more than likely catch your eye during a  visit to Kilkenny’s spectacular Lyrath Estate Hotel. The hotel’s three Golden Retrievers pose in many hotel publicity shots and indeed you’ll see  them in guest wedding pics as well. But popular and all as the threesome are, it is the humans around here that you’ll rely on and, as we found out during a recent stay, they too are very friendly indeed.

Just one example. As we walked into the magnificent Yew Tree room for breakfast, we got the biggest smile and a lovely warm greeting from the lady on duty. It is not very unusual in Ireland but we were particularly delighted with it, as a week earlier, we got an unsmiling silent greeting (hardly a greeting at all) from a corresponding person in a Wexford hotel.
Front of the "old" house

Our initial greeting on arrival at Lyrath the previous day was warm as well and we got all the info we needed. Soon we were passing their very impressive Christmas decorations, all on a grand scale under the high ceiling, and heading off to our executive room. The 137 rooms are generally off from the central part of the hotel, itself based on the original mansion.

There are a number of room categories and Executive rooms offer more space for guests to enjoy and come with a king size bed. They include an entrance hallway, a walk-in wardrobe/dressing area and large bathroom with double basins, bath and separate walk in shower. Our room overlooked the estate. We certainly had all we needed with a separate toilet in the bathroom, TV of course and the WifI was perfect as well.

Head Chef: Kenneth Murphy
Lyrath has just appointed Kenneth Murphy as Head Chef. The much travelled Carlowman has a wealth of experience, worked extensively with the Virgin Limited Edition Group and, more recently, was also Executive Head Chef at Fota Island Resort.

O'Hara's ale
No doubt he’ll be putting his own stamp on the menus here in due course. There are two main dining rooms, the Yew Tree (open only on Fridays and Saturdays at present) and the very comfortable Grill and Bar, situated on the mezzanine over the entrance foyer.

We were there in midweek and our reservation was at the Grill. First we called to the bar there and again had a lovely chat with a young barman. He filled us in on what was available when we requested Gin and Tonic and we were glad to hear they had Dingle Gin. So we enjoyed those before strolling across the floor to the restaurant.
Twilight at Lyrath

Like the rest of the hotel, comfort and space are the main features. Soon we were seated in a lovely booth with the menus at hand and making our choices. 
Beetroot Tartarin
Also had a good look at the wine list, quite a quality one, and CL settled on a glass of their Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner (11.50), fruity (citrus, apple) but with excellent acidity and well able to handle the food. I was glad to see they had quite a selection of the local O’Hara’s beers in bottle and even more so when I found out the Yellow Belly Citra Ale (6.00) was available on draught. “A pint, please,” I beamed.
Beef cheek

Soon we were enjoying our starters. Mine was Smoked Salmon with beetroot purée, cucumber, fennel and cress salad. CL’s was Beetroot Tartarin, the classic combination of goats cheese, beetroot (spiced in this version), pine nuts and horseradish. We enjoyed those two.

Grilled Atlantic Salmon was CL’s choice for the mains and that came with grilled asparagus spears and béarnaise and got the thumbs up. Mine was Slow-braised Hereford Beef cheek, quite a large portion, served with shallot purée, carrots and creamy mash. It was top notch, enhanced by a side of Steak chips, heartily recommended by our server!
Santa in the lobby

Dessert choices made us think before I plunged for my first slice of Christmas pudding of the season. It came with Brandy Anglaise and vanilla ice-cream. Pas Mal!

The main bar, Tupper's, is on the ground floor and has a club like atmosphere in its two rooms with an adjoining much brighter conservatory which overlooks Lady Charlotte Wheeler-Cuffe’s Victorian garden (now restored). More beer for me, a lovely glass of draught ale, this time by O’Hara’s, sipped in front of the open fire.

The breakfast in the spacious Yew Tree, with its views over the old garden, was excellent. Great buffet choices, juices, cereals, fruits, cheese, ham, and more. 

And the kitchen was in top form too and the stack of Hugh’s Pancakes with fresh blueberries and maple syrup, along with my server's suggestion of bacon, went down a treat. My starter here was a granola-topped pot of yogurt. All good, as Christmas music played gently in the background.
Breakfast

With the weather turning nasty we were’t able to take advantage of the walks around the 170 acre estate, one marked 2.5km, another 5.km. 

At other times of the year, you’ll have, among other things, falconry and archery available. And of course they have a spa and leisure centre (with 17 metre pool). And there is also a Conference Centre here. 

All within a couple of kilometres of the heart of medieval Kilkenny. You could spend well more than a day here and that is what I’d heartily recommend. And say hello to the dogs for me!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sage. New Superlatives Please!


Sage. New Superlatives Please!
Ravioli

Mackerl
Think I’d need a stack of superlatives to describe a recent dinner at Sage on Midleton, the home of the 12 mile menu. I could easily go over the top as Kevin Aherne’s kitchen is easily ahead of many around the country. But I’ll try and not bore you, just to say here at the start that the place, in a courtyard just off Midleton’s main street, has never ever disappointed.

Sage and its junior sister, the Greenroom, cater for a variety of tastes and budgets and the recent addition - the semi-open courtyard itself -  is a lively food and drink venue and was indeed booked out on the night we visited. Sage too was full by the eight o’clock mark so the advise is to book ahead.

Then you can relax. Everything will be fine: the fresh local food, the very friendly efficient service, the drink (much of the wine is organic) and the beer is craft and local as you'd expect. You can spot the crew cooking in the kitchen as you sit back in a lovely simple room, one of whose walls honours the many suppliers from within that 12 mile radius.
We, subsidised by the last of the gift vouchers from Christmas, were on the A la Carte but I spotted much of the same menu on the Early Evening offering (three courses for thirty euro!). Breads were delivered to the table as we studied the menu. We also thought about the drink and, with steak in mind, I settled on the regular stout from O’Hara’s. Regular but excellent, a bottle for 6.00. Soon we were nibbling on the amuse bouche of Apple rings  and Ardsallagh Goats cheese.
Hake


Great choice of starters, and mine was magnificent: Mackerel, oyster mushroom and samphire (10.00). It was a great combination, the warm soft flesh of the mackerel, full of flavour, perfectly complemented by the supple mushroom, the peppery crunch of the radish and the salty bite of the samphire.

Hard to guess sometimes what you are going to get on your plate when you read the brief description, as CL did: Beef cheek ravioli, horseradish, parsnip (9.00). Well, the beef was contained in one big plate-filling ravioli and the parsnip was a crisp. But it all worked so well together, another delicious interesting starter. I'm sure the other four on the list would have been of the same standard, each perhaps with a little surprise.
Beef

So, surprised and happy, we moved on to the mains. No big ambush for me: Beef Fillet (Charlie Terry), horseradish, shallots and spinach (30.00). I've long maintained that if a chef looks after the little things, that he will also come up trumps with the big items. In this case, for example, the shallots were outstanding, sweet and good and the spinach was fresh and tasty. The fillet? Add any meaty superlative you wish. As good as you’ll get and better than most.

And was the other side of the table jealous? No, not a bit of it. She loves her hake and that affair was enhanced by Sage’s: Hake, pasta, mussels, chorizo, samphire (24.00). A lot on the plate but another winning combination, well cooked, well presented and well served.
Sweet

It is strawberry time in Ireland so we both finished with a Strawberry and Marshmallow Posset (8.00). The two glass bowls were well stripped, as indeed were all the previous plates, when the servers came to take them away. We like good food and there’s no shortage of that in Sage. Very Highly Recommended!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Kernel Kilkenny. Maria’s Up and Running

Kernel Kilkenny

Maria’s Up and Running
Salmon
So here you are in the kitchen with this lot in front of you: Salmon, sugar snaps, mint, new potatoes, Toonsbridge feta, butternut squash, lime dressing. What to do? Well, check with Maria Raftery, the owner-chef at Kernel, Kilkenny’s newest restaurant. She grilled the salmon and put all the other ingredients together in a magical manner to produce one of the best salmon dishes you're likely to come across.

It is one of the main dishes on the new menu at the restaurant which has taken up most of the front of the Kilkenny Inn on Vicar Street. And the dish, and others, amply illustrate that Maria has lost none of her innovative qualities that shone through over 17 years at Zuni, also in Kilkenny.
Goatsbridge trout
 Kernel Restaurant and Bar, to give it its full title, will be running hand in hand with the hotel and is providing the breakfast for the lucky patrons. Brunch and dinner is also available, even afternoon teas for both ladies and gents!


Back to our visit. While CL was finishing off the salmon and singing its praises, I was tucking into something a little less complicated: the Kernel Angus Beef Burger, smoked Gubbeen, burger sauce, pickle-slaw, house fries. Less complicated maybe but still a perfect combination of textures and flavours.
Ham Hock Scotch Egg
CL had started the meal with Goatsbridge Trout Ceviche, Nori Seaweed, Smoked Trout Mousse, Roe Dressing. Hard to beat that. You’ll notice that Kernel has started by supporting local producers and Goatsbridge Trout Farm is one of the best.

I didn't do too badly either with my Ham Hock Scotch Egg, Piccalilli. Lacked nothing in either quantity or quality, full of good flavour and a really satisfying opening to my visit to Kernel.
 The dessert list is short but still left us puzzled, a puzzle we solved by ordering the Assiette of Desserts, a sweet solution.


They’ve got a pretty good wine list, three suppliers contributing to a good balance overall. We made a bit of a compromise, an enjoyable one, on the Cantina Frentana, Montepulciano D’Abbruzo, fruity and smooth, and twenty five euro the bottle.
Dessert - for sharing!
Had noticed a few (quite a few actually) craft beers on the list including Franciscan Well, Costello’s, O’Hara’s, Free Bird and Hop Adventure (both from Carlow) and Falling Apple Cider (also Carlow). The taps on the bar heralded the three variations of Smithwick's (Red Ale, Pale Ale and the Blonde) but I'm sorry I missed out on the tap for O’Sullivan’s Malted Red Ale, a local beer (now revived) that was produced before Smithwick started in 1710. Next time!
See also

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

FX Buckley. Exquisite Steak in Dublin City

FX Buckley
Exquisite Steak in Dublin City
No shortage of beef here!


Ended up with James Joyce in Dublin the week before last.

Just name-dropping, really. I was in the FX Buckley Steakhouse in Pembroke Street, another Dublin institution, and had just finished an exquisite steak dish. No room for dessert but certainly room and inclination for their James Joyce cocktail made with Powers Pot Still Whiskey, Triple Sec, Rosso Vermouth and lime juice.

Francis Xavier Buckley opened his first butcher shop on Moore Street in 1930 and this soon became a well-known Dublin institution. Since then it was part of a natural progression to open their own steakhouses around the city and serve their famous beef from their butchers to your table. You’ll find them in Pembroke St.,  Crow St.,  Ryan's Parkgate St.,  Bull & Castle (near Dublin Castle) and at The Pub @ FXB Monkstown.

With large glass-fronted fridges behind me, I thought my 8 ounce fillet looked a bit lonely on the plate with its little pot of pepper sauce (30.00). Of course, I could have had ordered a larger size or more sides than just their Beef Dripping Chips. But is was perfect. Exquisitely so. Tender and full of flavour and big enough too, a succulent sufficiency. And those chips. Must be the best around!
Meanwhile, CL was tucking into her Six ounce medallions of fillet beef, served with spring onion mash, shallots, mushroom and red wine jus (23.00). With all the steak dishes, you can order extra sides.

The Irish “grass-fed heritage steaks” are normally Angus or Hereford but from time to time, they may have Dexter or Irish Moiled meat available. All will have been aged for 28 days by the time they reach your plate.

The only steak that features on the A La Carte starter list is the Fillet Steak tartare. There are some great choices here including Black Pudding Croquette; Carlingford Lough Oysters; Asparagus, poached egg and Hollandaise; Foie Gras and Duck liver Paté.
CL was delighted with her Kilkeel Harbour Scallops, served with a Buckley black-pudding, with crushed mint peas and hollandais (13.50). A terrific combination with, surprisingly, the peas playing a starring role.

My choice was the FX Buckley cured salmon blini, with chive crème fraîche and mustard honey dressing (9.50). Went through that one fairly quickly, I can tell you, very tasty indeed.

What to drink? We had been at a wine-tasting that afternoon so settled on beer in Buckley’s. The fact that they have their own ale helped. It was a nice one too though I preferred the large bottle of O’Hara’s Pale Ale. By the way, there is no shortage of wine here. It is a massive list with the reds in the majority, some very expensive, some very affordable.

And no shortage of cocktails either. When it came to making up my mind, I decided to stick with the locals and Mr Joyce. And I enjoyed his company very much indeed.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lovely stay at Lakeside Hotel on the Shannon River


Lovely stay at Lakeside Hotel on the Shannon River
Lough Derg
Spent a two very enjoyable days in Ballina, County Tipperary, last weekend, staying at the Lakeside Hotel, a lovely hotel on a little rise on the east side of the bridge that connects Ballina with Killaloe, its Clare “cousin”. Many people don't realise there is a Ballina here at all but it is  lovely riverside place in a very central location and is a great gathering point for boats and indeed there are cruises available on the Shannon and into nearby Lough Derg.

Was never quite sure whether I was in Tipp or Clare. Some places, you read the hotel is in Tipperary, some places they say it is in Clare and then you also see the address is given as Killaloe/Ballina! Maybe they are playing it safe as the flags outside the hotel - they were blowing stiffly last weekend - include both the Tipperary and Clare county flags and even Saturday night’s entertainer said he had to be careful where his feet were when making remarks that might favour one county over the other!
The ducks win this race for food!

That Saturday night session was one of the highlights. We had just enjoyed a lovely meal at the nearby Tuscany Bistro in Ballina and were settling into the hotel bar (where they have a full menu with lots of local producers featured) when the tall lanky singer with a great line of patter arrived on the scene.


His audience, including two couples from Thurles celebrating their 40th anniversary with friends, were all in good form and the singer enhanced the mood with standards from Bob Dylan to Christy Moore, popular songs such as simple 60s pop to The Fields of Athenry. And all the time, I was sipping away at some excellent Red Ale by O’Hara’s, a warm fire nearby.


Ballycuggeran Beach

We don't get a  chance to eat in the hotel’s restaurant, except for breakfast on each morning. Breakfast was totally buffet on the  busy Sunday morning but we were well catered for. Lots of juices and cereals and no shortage either of hot stuff (you could help yourself to the full Irish or any abbreviated version you wanted). Some nice breads and pastries also available. Not too many people there on Monday morning and instead of the hot buffet you were able to order. Either way, it was excellent.


Our room was very spacious and comfortable, all mod cons including TV, hairdryer and Tea/coffee and we had a very comfortable sofa to sit on. The bathroom (bath and shower) was large and very well equipped and no shortage of toiletries.


Rossmore on Lough Derg

They have a lovely garden out front but we weren't sitting there on this occasion. But we did take the walk down to the river. Sunday morning was better and brighter and we drove up the western side of Lough Derg. Ballycuggeran Beach, one of a few if not the only Blue Flag freshwater beach in the country, was our first stop and a pleasant one, even if some of the paths were flooded.


On then through places like Whitegate, Mountshannon, Ogonnelloe and into An Cuas in Galway heading for a viewpoint at Rossmore. Had to negotiate a flood or two (nothing serious) and the view was worth it even if the water in the large lake was lively and quite high. Retraced our steps to Killaloe, arriving a little too late to benefit from the Farmers Market, held between the waters, but in time to see Ireland v Scotland. Later in the evening, we were back at the Tuscany Bistro for the presentation of the Pride of Ireland Awards.


Lakeside Hotel

The weather may not have been at its best but we had a most enjoyable couple of days at our base in the Lakeside where the staff were friendly and very helpful. A day or two after coming home, we got an email offering us 20 per cent off on the next visit,. Nice, and one to be seriously considered. This is a lovely part of Ireland and deserves to be much better known.


Derelict in Disguise. Nice paint job in Ballina.
Related posts:
Pride of Ireland Awards 2013-2014

Tuscany Bistro. Superbo. Splendido. Eccellente





Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cornstore's Craft Beer and Food Month. A series of successful pairings

Craft Beer and Food Month at The Cornstore
A series of successful pairings.
Goat cheese starter
 For those who love good food and a good beer to go with it, Cork’s Cornstore is the place to be this month. The popular restaurant is running a Craft Beer and Food Menu every Wednesday and Thursday. I sampled it last week and can highly recommend it. The Menu is proving very popular so the advice is to book ahead.


They have put a lot of effort into the pairings and a beer (or cider) is suggested with each course. You can, of course, swap around to suit yourself. But we went with the suggested beers and found a series of successful pairings.
Ravioli
You have  a choice of five starters. I kicked off with the Porcini Mushroom Ravioli in a game broth with shredded duck leg and celeriac remoulade. This was a lovely dish on its own but, matched with O’Hara’s Curim, perhaps Ireland’s only wheat beer, it was even better, the object of the November exercise accomplished!

The Warm Goat's Cheese was recommended to us and, with poached fig and red pepper and tomato compote, it sure was a gem, But, matched with the flavoursome red ale, the Dungarvan Copper Coast, the balance was spot-on, the result perfectly delectable. 
Venison
Other starters included Crisp Pork Belly with Stonewell Medium Dry Cider, Chicken Wings with Trouble Brewing Sabotage IPA and Pan Seared Scallops with Eight Degrees Barefoot Bohemian. Check the full menu here.

Brown Bread was the unusual but excellent addition to the Wild Venison Stew, also with braised red cabbage and a wild mushroom dumpling. This earthy game dish, a wintery dark in the bowl, had a great complement in the black stout from Trouble Brewing called Dark Arts, an appropriate name indeed. A highly recommended dish!  
Steak
Trouble Brewing’s Sabotage IPA was one of the suggestions to go with the Aged Rib Eye Steak. Recommending it, the Cornstore said that it has a lovely bitter finish. “And really works well with our award winning steak rub and cuts through the little extra fat of the rib eye steak.” Very true indeed, a perfect alchemy of beer and boeuf, the steak served with mushroom and onion fricassee, a half roast plum tomato and pepper sauce.

Dessert and Beer? No problem to the taste team at the Cornstore. The Flourless Chocolate Cake, with fresh cream and raspberry coulis, is a luxury treat, some very expensive chocolate used here, and it was well matched with a small glass of the Franciscan Well Limited Edition Stout, aged in Jameson Whiskey Casks. The stout, a special treat, also doubled up well with the magnificent Cheese Board Selection (with fruit and crackers). 
And then what do you match with their Apple Dessert plate (mini apple crumble, apple sorbet and apple panna cotta)? Why, Stonewell Dry Cider, of course, the dry style of the Nohoval produced cider perfectly complementing the seasonal apple selection. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

O’Hara’s: A Double on The Dark Side


O’Hara’s: The Dark Side
Tasty Stout Double

Most craft breweries would be happy with one good stout but the crew at Carlow Brewing Company  have come up with two, both under the O’Hara’s label. Thanks to a recent win in a competition by distributors Galvin’s Wine, I enjoyed both last night.

O’Hara’s Traditional Irish Stout, 4.3%, Carlow Brewing Company 

Award winning...full bodied...luxuriously smooth. That is what it says on the bottle and it is all of that. Definitely a traditional stout, dry and smooth and full of lip smacking flavour with a finish that says don’t leave me too long on my own.
An award winner as far back as 2000 and still on O’Hara’s first team. Be sure to put it in your selection.

The head though is more cream coloured than white!
Suggested food pairings: Excellent with Seafood particularly shellfish and smoked salmon. Also pairs well with strong flavoured cheeses and dry cured meats such as Parma ham.
Carlow Brewing’s own tasting notes here

O’Hara’s Leann Follain Extra Irish Stout, 6.0%, Carlow Brewing Company

Another award winner. Smooth and powerful and a more noticeable bitterness to balance the complex chocolate and coffee flavours. Full bodied for sure but it purrs on the palate, a Rolls Royce of stout. Indeed, a terrific example – not the only one around! – of how the country’s craft brewers can banish the bland to the bars of yesterday.

Suggested food pairings: Matches well with any strong cheeses or cured meats.  Also goes well with desserts.
Carlow Brewing’s own tasting notes here