A weekend in Galway’s Twelve Hotel is the ultimate way to unwind, but the trip home is always permeated with gloom. I am always happy to extend the trip by just a couple of hours and stopping for lunch is the perfect excuse.
The picturesque village of Glasson, near Athlone in Co. Westmeath is the perfect spot to stop for a light lunch, especially when the car is groaning and begging for a break from the open road. Unfortunately a light lunch wasn’t to be. The menu at The Fatted Calf soon put paid to that. Strangely enough, eating out regularly can have a somewhat negative impact on my waistline, and so starters have been relegated to the back bench these days. But I just couldn’t do it. There was too much temptation. I consider myself lucky that I managed to escape without having dessert.
Decisions made, I kicked off with Steamed Lissadell Bay Mussels with a Coriander and Lemongrass cream and they were good, good, good. No. 2 went for a starter of Scallops with Pulled Pork which were presented so beautifully that a local seated next to us had to lean across to enquire what the dish was. That’s the vibe at The Fatted Calf, friendly locals who amuse themselves by watching the outsiders gorge on the outstanding food (at least that’s how I felt!).
Mains consisted of the usual pub lunch fare, including fish & chips, homemade burgers and hot roast sandwiches served in a toasted Waterford Blaa. All tempting in themselves. Simple dishes need little fanfare when top-notch ingredients are used, as is the case in The Fatted Calf. I opted for Buttermilk Fried Spiced Chicken with Wild Rocket and Tarragon Aioli, which was served with triple fried chips (yum). The dish was simple but superb and a very generous portion – although I did manage to polish most of it off. No. 2 chose the Donald Russell 28 day dry aged Rib Eye which was served with chunky dripping chips and greens.
It was all exceptional and well worth the detour off the M6. In fact, I’m fairly sure that The Fatted Calf is sure to become a foodie destination in itself. With an experienced team like Feargal and Fiona O’Donnell at the helm (Feargal is ex Wineport Lodge), it’s no surprise. You would be crazy not too.
The Fatted Calf
Sunday Brunch in Dublin is one of my absolute favourite ways to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon – even more so when accompanied by good company, a spicy Bloody Mary and a decent newspaper. Last Sunday found myself and my No. 2, venture into the Dublin City in search of a late Sunday Brunch. For many years, brunch in Dublin was a scarcity, with few places veering away from the usual luncheon fare. Thankfully things have changed – and not before time.
Most city centre restaurants and bars offer brunch in one form or another, and Sunday was our turn to try brunch at George’s Streets 777. Primarily a Mexican Tequila Bar, brunch at 777 is a traditionally Mexican affair. In keeping with the theme (and name), tapas style brunch dishes are priced at £7.77 each with a couple of special cocktails on offer also. This weeks offerings were a Tequila Sunrise, (so so) and a Passionfruit Margarita (yum yum). We chose three dishes and opted for Atole Machin (Shrimp in Grits), Tacos al Campeon (Breakfast Tacos with egg, chorizo and salsa verde) and El Ray ( Coddled Egg Rancheros with tortilla strings). No complaints. Everything was good, but being tapas sized portions, I was glad we ordered 3 dishes (and requested extra bread…..).
Now, with brunch out of the way, we could concentrate on our next mission – shopping for supper. As I rarely get an opportunity to wander around Fallon & Fyrne, that was our next port of call. The food hall here is heaven, just don’t forget your credit card. Their deli counter in particular is, in my opinion, the kind of deli counter all gourmet stores should aim for. We settled on a cheese board for our evening sustenance and am I glad we did.
Although I generally know what I like in the cheese department, advice is always appreciated and the charming man on the cheese counter surely knew his stuff. His knowledge of the cheeses available was impressive. He suggested a french St Agur, a Durrus from Cork, and a wedge of Glebe Brethen all the way from Co. Louth. As a palate cleanser when switching between different cheeses, he recommended a rose-petal encrusted French Chevre. A little radical perhaps, but Oh. My. God. This man knows his stuff. My perfect Sunday evening was spent grazing on our divine cheeses atop wafer thin rye crackers and washed down with a glass of Warre’s Otima 10 year old tawny – my favourite Port at the moment. Sheer Heaven.