Restaurant review

Dunmore House is the complete package

My relationship with Dunmore House began a ‘billion’ years ago when I stayed with the family of a friend from the boarding school, 500 yards away from the hotel’s beautiful coastal perch facing the east, on Clonakilty Bay.

One evening, lemonade and chips at the hotel bar apparently led to my first game of spinning the bottle on nearby Duneen beach. Years later, two of my brothers got married there – no, not to each other – and a close friend then chose the same location to do the same.

We had reluctantly declined the invitation to this last wedding, having no one to look after a tumultuous toddler and a meowing baby that the universe had then seen fit to inflict on us. After church, our plan was to reluctantly come home until a catastrophic pant explosion in a meowing baby’s baby-groove led to an emergency stop at the hotel.

We still don’t know how it happened, but within 20 minutes of our arrival, upon learning of our situation, the wonderful staff had booked us a room and provided additional seats for the wedding banquet – which they weren’t sure about. have never invoiced afterwards!

Dunmore House is located near Duneen Beach.

In the blink of an eye we went from hunted Cinderella to the heart of the ball and it was all due to an innate instinct for hospitality that has characterized the Barrett family since its inception as a hotel in 1948, third-generation Peter Barrett recently joined his mother Carol at the helm.

Much has changed over the past 10 years. The cozy country inn has been given a tasteful and stylish makeover by adding crisp boutique veneer without sacrificing an iota of its heartwarming charm. A splendid new terrace by the bay is a determining element.

The unleashed toddler is now a lanky teenager – a tangle of legs and headphones – while the meowing baby is an 11-year-old boy poised with no desire to remember his old pants transgressions and we are in a family at the third floor bedroom with an absolutely breathtaking view. Despite the obvious appeal of the patio, we stay put, ordering snacks and drinks to spend the afternoon marveling at the ocean.

The hotel has stunning views.
The hotel has stunning views.

In the evening, only son number two and I face a now rather parked terrace – the heatwave is still on its way – I end up nibbling inside for the pre-prandial supper where SpouseGirl enjoys a margarita for the ages.

Food has also changed, driven by Carol Barrett’s zealous passion for premium, local, seasonal produce, largely sourced from the hotel’s own organic gardens. Without a chef per se, a talented team equals everyone working towards a common goal, delivering that passion to the plate.

A solid wine list and at lively prices flush with natural wines sets the tone and we order a supple and fruity Zweigelt / St Laurent (Judith Beck INK 2019) while brushing a board of breads, brown and sourdough, butter of firm, pesto and toasted almonds, followed by a whipped goat’s cheese appetizer with lemon and pickled beetroot.

Meanwhile, The Progeny roams a kid’s menu enticing enough to even trap No 2 Son, whose more usual preference for a good steak is distracted by calorific and deliciously tasty mac’n’cheese and huge chicken guts. succulents.

“I wallow happily in the glow of a very, very good meal, something not commonly said about hotel food.”

SG’s warm salad of lobster, arugula in mint oil and mustard leaves, scalloped with flowers, borage, marigold and thyme, is perfect and plays just as well on the palate. My beautifully caramelized scallops are lush, sweet and savory, served with crispy grilled scallions and a balanced and sweet pea soup, garnished with thyme and viola blossoms.

SG’s quite exquisite turbot fillet is perched on a deliciously light risotto, with a crispy criste and citrus cream. My Skeaghanore duck is superbly delivered, golden skin, pink veal flesh, served with roasted beets, York cabbage and jus. Next to our sides of au gratin potatoes and crunchy green beans, it’s probably more of a winter dish, but that doesn’t stop me from licking the plate all the way to the table.

After that, I’m done, bar a sweet sample of SG’s dreamy vanilla bavarois, with rosemary gel and gin. I wallow happily in the glow of a very, very good meal, something not commonly said about hotel food. And, with that box checked, Dunmore House is now the complete package, surely one of the best hotels of its kind in the country. My long-standing little weakness turned into a late and quite unbridled passion.

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