A treat for that special occasion or a good excuse to break a journey west

by Gazette Reporter

LAST week I ran into an old friend from Longford who lives in Dublin. I haven’t been in Longford in years and my old buddy was surprised to hear I had been down just the previous Friday.
“I had a beautiful dinner in Viewmount House,” she said. “We go there all the time when I’m home! It’s gorgeous,” I have to agree.
Viewmount House is on the Dublin Road outside Longford town. A foodie friend and I wanted to check out the increasingly popular restaurant. Chef Gary O’Hanlon (RTE’s The Restaurant) is at the helm, and the restaurant features on Bridgestone’s 100 best places to eat in Ireland.
The house is a handsome early Georgian manor of moderate imposition, three-bays wide and three-storeys tall, and presents itself after a short drive up a quaint driveway surrounded by pretty gardens with old tall trees, herbaceous borders and a Japanese garden.
We were ushered past a roaring fire framed by two well-worn Chesterfields to the newer part of the house, in converted stables, comprising the main dining room and seven bedrooms. Subtle and considered period styling creates a seamless flow from the main manor house to the conversion. No sooner were we doing the bounce test on our luxurious mattresses – the bed and linen were divine – than Beryl, our hostess, arrived with two Hendricks gin and tonics to ease away the weary week and wet our whistles for the gastronomy ahead.
The VM restaurant fuses notes of traditional Irish cooking and flavours with European classic technique. All ingredients are sourced locally. The menu changes seasonally The main dining room is an airy yet intimate space, all exposed brickwork and cast iron pillars with comfy high back chairs and crisp linen; a lovely room for a good meal.
I went for an orange and anise cured confit duck leg with a beetroot salsa starter and the beef cheek as my main. My partner had a starter of prawns in a delicate filo type pastry and a 10oz sirloin for the main. A selection of homemade bread with butter and red pepper hummus was delicious. The treacle bread was the best I’ve tasted.
We were then treated to a taste of the risotto from the starters list, which was flavoured with orange, carrot and a touch of tarragon. I loved the uniqueness though the rice was a touch too al dente and the dish a little sweet for my companion. There is a considerable element of sweet from fruits running through the menu, which can be a little marginalising for some. My duck confit was cooked wonderfully though I found the orange cure a little heavy, but that’s really a matter of taste.
I stole one of the prawns from the mate’s plate and we both thought they were excellent.
Mains arrived a perfect 15 minutes later. Everything was plated and presented wonderfully, signalling a kitchen with a talent for style and substance, and a clear grasp of fine dining.
My beef cheek was an unctuous mound of slow cooked braised beef, with delicate wisps of shallot, a moss green quenelle of parsley mash and a dark cherry wine jus. It was topped with an egg cooked to 60C sous vide, which melded with the beef when broken and created rich gravy that was sensational. A feast for the eyes and belly. My friend’s steak came with a blue cheese butter and side of croquettes and seasonal veg. Unfortunately, her steak was cooked a little more than the medium rare she had requested, though its flavour was delicious and it was seared to perfection.
For dessert we ordered a chocolate brownie mousse concoction with a cherry sauce and a honey sponge with ice cream. The chocolate was chocolatey heaven, the sponge a little stodgy and lacked a sauce.
We drank a moderately priced Argentinian Malbec at €30 that was silk in a glass. The wine list was excellent, with plenty of choice in the €20-€30 price range.
At €55 per person VM at Viewmount House delivers on service, quality and the personal touch for that feeling of quiet luxury. An overnight stay at €110-130 will leave you feeling pampered and refreshed. Viewmount House and VM restaurant are worth watching out for.
Breakfast had all the choice you’d expect with full Irish, pancakes, salmon, scrambled egg, cereal and more of that stunning treacle bread.
Shane is a foodie vlogger, see riggersrecipes.

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