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Just Ask Restaurant of the Month for April - The Lemon Tree Restaurant, Letterkenny

 The “Just Ask!” Restaurant of the Month winner for April is The Lemon Tree Restaurant, Letterkenny, Co Donegal

The Lemon Tree

After nearly two decades on Lower Main Street, the Molloy family's popular restaurant in the centre of Letterkenny moved around the corner in 2017, to spacious new premises at the Courtyard Shopping Centre.

Thankfully it was a case of "Same staff same food, just new location" and their many fans are happy to observe the three brothers - Thomas, Gary and Euro-Toques chef, Christopher Molloy - at work on their modern Irish cooking in the new semi-open kitchen, and to enjoy the buzz.

In business since 1999, they were well ahead of the trend for showcasing local foods, and their meats have always been locally sourced - as has the fresh fish, which is a special feature.

The Lemon Tree Restaurant - exterior

But recently they have upped the ante even more - Chris is a Failte Ireland Food Champion, helping to promote Donegal as a food tourism destination on the Wild Alantic Way, and it's well worth taking time to browse their website, where you'll find some fascinating information about wide ranging suppliers.

The philosophy at The Lemon Tree is simple: contemporary Irish cooking using where possible, Donegal produce. “All meats, fish and poultry are Irish sourced and everything is made freshly on site, including all breads, pastries, pastas and desserts,” they state.

Wonderful Donegal meats (home reared beef and lamb from Gildea Farm Butchers, Letterkenny; free range pork and Angus beef from Lisnamulligan Farm, Castlefinn) and free range poultry (Noone Farm, Inishowen) rub shoulders in this creative kitchen with fresh fish and seafood (Starcrest Seafoods of Donegal, Albatross Seafood Killybegs, Mulroy Bay Mussels, Errigal Bay Scallops) and traditional turf smoked salmon from the picturesque Haven Smokehouse at Carrigart.

The Lemon Tree Restaurant - interior

Then there are vegetables of all kinds - home grown potatoes come from Derek McClure, vegetables from the famed Ballyholey Farm Shop at Raphoe and Gareth Austin supplies micro herbs and wild foods to the restaurant. There’s Manus MacGonagle’s esteemed Quality Sea Veg at Burtonport too, and care in the detail, with Donegal Rapeseed Oil, Jordans Donegal Sea Salt and St Johnston Honey all proudly featured.

Sourcing local also extends to the drinks list, where you'll find not just a well chosen range of wines, but also Donegal craft beers (including the benchmarking Kinnegar Brewery, recently relocated to Letterkenny, and Boghopper Brewery of Inishoween) and most recently, Silkie Whiskey - a good excuse, if it were needed, to sit up on one of those high stools and enjoy a drink at the bar down at the back of the restaurant, before or after your meal.

‘Classically inspired cooking’ is the promise at this smart-relaxed dining venue and, while telling a food story that is both intensely traditional yet totally modern, very good it is too.

For additional information on Just Ask and previous Just Ask winners, or to find out how to get involved, visit www.bordbia.ie.

SUPPLIERS

Seaweed Qualityseaveg.ie
Donegal Rape Seed Oil
Jordans Donegal Seasalt
Albatross Seafood
Noone Farm Chickens
Farm Fresh Eggs
Errigal Bay Scallops
Ballyholey Farm
Gildea Farm Butchers
Boghopper Brewery
St Johnston Honey
Lisnamulligan Farm
Starcrest Seafood
Kinnegar Brewery
Mulroy Bay Mussels
Haven Smoke House Turf Smoked Salmon
Silkie Whiskey

The Lemon Tree Restaurant - food

SAMPLE MENU:

A La Carte Menu

STARTERS

Charred Ballyholey Farm Cauliflower, Cauliflower Leaves, Puree, Raisins, Apple €8 (7,1)

Fresh Fishcake, Baby Gem Leaves, Tartar Sauce €8 (1,3,7,4,)

Ballyholey Vegetable Soup €5 (1,9)

Organic Mulroy Bay Mussels, Ballyholey Leeks, Irish Cider €8.50 (1,7,12,14)

Chorizo Sausage Risotto, Soft Herbs, Parmesan Cheese €8 (1,7,9)

Soft Goats Cheese, Cucumber, Baby Gem, Tomato Relish €8 (1,7)

Slow Cooked Pork Hash, Soft Egg, Sautéed Greens, Apple €8 (1,3,6,7)

Blow Torched Mackerel, Potato Salad, Natural Yogurt €8 (1,3,4,7)

Smoked Salmon, Salmon Mousse, Winter Beetroot €9 (1,4,7)

Noones Farm Chicken Leg Terrine, Tomato Relish €8 (1,3)

MAIN COURSES

Mushroom Arancini, Parmesan, Mushrooms, Toasted Almonds, Broccoli €16 (1,3,7,8)

Slow Cooked Local Pork Belly, Baby Ballyholey Carrots, Apple, Black Pudding, Mash Potatoes €18 (1,6,7,9,12)

Roast Duck Breast, Celeriac, Red Cabbage, Pear Purée, Champ Mash €23 (1,6,79,12)

Noone Farm Chicken Breast, Mushrooms, Irish Smoked Bacon, Charred Cabbage, Mushroom & Potato fritters €18 (1,3,6,7,9,12)

Monkfish, Beef Cheek, Broccoli Mousse, Buttered Broccoli, Potato Terrine, Beef Reduction €23.50 (1,4,6,7,9,12)

9oz Irish Sirloin Steak, Charred Onion, Pepper Sauce, Chips or Mash Potato €22.50 (1,6,7,9,12)

Atlantic Hake, Fennel, Barley, Chicken Broth, Baby Boiled Potatoes €22 (1,9,12)

Braised Irish Beef Cheek, Mash Potato, Truffle Crumb, Whole Carrot, Cooking Juices €18 (1,3,6,7,9,12)

List of 14 allergens

1 Cereals containing Gluten such as wheat spelt and barley
2 Crustaceans
3 Eggs
4 Fish
5 Peanuts
6 Soybeans
7 Milk
8 Nuts
9 Celery including Celeriac
10 Mustard
11 Sesame
12 Sulphur Dioxide
13 Lupin
14 Molluscs

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VIEW ALL JUST ASK RESTAURANT OF THE MONTH WINNERS



Just Ask!” is a public awareness campaign that aims to encourage consumers when eating out to look for information on where the food (particularly meat) on their plate comes from, and encourages chefs to provide this information on their menus. The programme supports both large and smaller artisan suppliers, encouraging both Irish diners and visitors from abroad to support restaurants that are in turn supporting their suppliers.

Here at Georgina Campbell Guides we have always been avid supporters of the ‘eat local’ concept, and we always enjoy reading menus that have a real sense of place. The dining experience is greatly enriched by knowing that the food on your plate is inspired by the produce and traditions of the area, and sourced nearby – and we would love to see more chefs sharing that precious information with their guests.  

If you are a visitor to the area, learning a little about local food and the people who produce it adds a special extra dimension to the visit – and, for residents, it reinforces a natural pride in the good things of their locality and makes a meal all the more enjoyable.

So, we are delighted by the high standard of menus that continue to be submitted for our ' “Just Ask!” Restaurant of the Month Competition', menus that really speak of the best of Irish foods – and the dedication of both the people who make them, and the chefs who select them to create wonderful dishes with real Irish flavour for our enjoyment.

 

 

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