Just Ask Restaurant of the Month for October - The Strawberry Tree
The “Just Ask!” Restaurant of the Month winner for October is The Strawberry Tree, BrookLodge Hotel, Macreddin, Co Wicklow
The ‘Just Ask!’ Restaurant of the Month for October is unique, as it goes to one of Ireland’s true leaders in the field of food provenance – and the consistency of the message tells its own story.
When Evan Doyle opened The Strawberry Tree Restaurant in Killarney, Co Kerry, in 1988, it was one of the first restaurants to acknowledge the key role played by suppliers, and he still has a copy of the supplier page in their first menu which begins, “A menu is only as good as its ingredients and the main ingredient at the Strawberry Tree is its suppliers….”
A decade or so later the restaurant moved up to the Doyle brothers’ fledgling Macreddin Village in Co Wicklow and, not only has Evan’s passion for promoting organic and wild foods never faltered, but he and his team at BrookLodge have made this lovely place a mecca for food lovers, with a monthly wild and organic food market and a summer food forum among the organised events and many hands-on day to day activities to interest and engage visitors.
Remarkably, nearly a quarter of a century after it first opened, The Strawberry Tree still holds its title as Ireland’s only certified organic restaurant. But, more importantly perhaps than the commitment to organically produced food (given that so much of the organic food sold in Ireland is imported), is that menus are dictated by the availability of mainly local ingredients in their natural season.
The strength of this underlying philosophy is seen in everything they do, culminating in the ‘Big Table Menu’, which is served to a large number – perhaps a couple of dozen guests – and it’s all about ‘paying homage to the producers of our foods’. The menu is kept simple, allowing for personal introduction of the foods and their suppliers – thus a dish of Slow Cooked Organic Lamb, Puff Pastry is given context: “We have been working hand in hand with Gold River Farm in Aughrim, who have been rearing organic Lamb for the BrookLodge kitchens for the last three years. Tonight we serve our Lamb with Roast Butternut Squash, Mustard Sauce.”
The team at The Strawberry Tree share Evan’s passion for the particular when it comes to menu development, growing foods and foraging in the locality, cooking it simply but stylishly and serving it with pride. You really won’t have to ‘Just Ask’ when enjoying this inspiring dining experience, but they will love it if you do – especially if ask about their own smoked, cured and preserved specialities in The Larder, and whether you might see them for yourself. And if you do ask about that, you’re in for a real treat!
An Organic & Wild Food Dinner at The Strawberry Tree Summer 2012
Our Own Air Dried Beef (Vintage February 2012),
Baby Leaves, Balsamic, Raspberry Jelly
St. Tola Goats Cheese, Aubergine, Puff Pastry Twirl,
Mixed Wild Leaves, Mango Salsa
From The Macreddin Smoke House, Our Own Smoked Salmon,
Fennel, Grapefruit Salad, Lemon Foam
Roast Red Pepper Polenta, Oisin Farmhouse Smoked Brie,
Confit Cherry Tomato, Red Onion Jam
Baked Wild Dublin Bay Prawns, Pak Choi Salad, Sesame Seed,
Lime, Ginger Vinaigrette
Gold River Farm Ham Hock Terrine, Shitake, Oyster Mushrooms,
Wild Rocket, Red Wine Reduction
Spiced Sweet Potato Soup, Cumin Flatbread
Beef, Vegetable Broth
Oisin Farmhouse Feta Cheese, Cherries, Olives,
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Mixed Leaves, French Dressing
Melon, Orange, Lime Sorbet
Grilled Irish Organic Beef Fillet, Roast Butternut Squash, Red Wine Jus
Steamed Wild Monkfish, Wexford Sourced Wild Seabeet, Wild Marsh Samphire,
Wild Velvet Crab, Coconut Bisque
Out of Dunmore East, Baked Wild Plaice, Pasta Nero, Rainbow Chard, Lemongrass Foam
Grilled Irish Organic Rib Eye, Smoked Mustard Butter, Sweet Potato Mash, Pink Peppercorn Jus
Slow Cooked Gold River Farm Organic Lamb, Puff Pastry, Green Beans, Roast Red Onion, Jus
Aughrim Sourced Wild Garlic Baked Organic Chicken Breast, Braised Leg, Quinoa, Rosemary Sauce
Macreddin Wild Cep Risotto, Spinach, Black Olives, Gorgonzola
Mango Rice Pudding, Poached Cherries
Vanilla Pannacotta, Baked Peaches
Passionfruit Parfait, Blueberry Compote
Dark, White Chocolate, Honeycomb Mousse, Caramel Brownie Ice Cream, Chocolate Nut Biscuit
Selection of Anna’s Home Made Ice Creams and Sorbets
Organic Chocolate Plate 74% Pure Organic Dark Chocolate
A Selection of Soft-Ripe and Hard Matured Irish Organic and Raw Milk Cheeses
Accompanied with a Glass of Port from the Wine Cellar
(Irish Raw Milk Cheeses are so important to us; we have successfully received an EU derogation for these, as part of our Organic Licence)
Except Where Underlined as Wild, the Entire Dinner Menu is Organic
The Strawberry Tree is the only certified Organic Restaurant in Ireland.
(EEC) Regulation 1804 / 99 and in accordance with
The Standards for Organic Food as set by The Dept. of Agriculture
Together with The Organic Trust. It is illegal under regulation 834/2007
To store, prepare or serve conventional foodstuffs in The Strawberry Tree
An Organic And Wild Food Dinner at the Big Table
St. Tola Goats Cheese, Poppy Seed, Pink Peppercorn Crust
Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith has been a cheese maker for over two decades in the
West of Co. Clare. She farms 150 Goats organically and today we are marrying
Siobhans superb Goats Cheese with Raspberry Jelly, Wild Rocket, Crouton
Macreddin Smoked Salmon
We have always been happy with our own Smoked Salmon, but since 2007, we
think we have really cracked it with the most succulent smoke of all. Tonight, we
serve our Smoked Salmon with Fennel Salad, Avocado Coulis
Wild Garlic Baked Chicken
We get our Chicken from J.J. Ahearn in Co. Cork. Earlier in the spring, we picked
some Wild Garlic in the woods around Macreddin Village from which we have
made some Wild Garlic Butter. From this we have baked these fab organic
Roast Irish RibEye
Our Beef is supplied by Good Herdsmen down in Co. Tipperary
Tonight we will serve it with Red Wine Jus
Slow Cooked Organic Lamb, Puff Pastry
We have been working hand in hand with Gold River Farm in Aughrim, who have
been rearing organic Lamb for the Brooklodge kitchens for the last three years.
Tonight we serve our Lamb with Roast Butternut Squash, Mustard Sauce
Baked Wild Plaice
Colin O’Shea (Our Fishmonger) down in Dunmore East, Co. Waterford has
brought us some great Wild Plaice, this evening we serve it with Wild Seabeet, Red Pepper Sauce
Macreddin Sourced Wild Ceps Risotto Black Olives, Spinach, Gorgonzola
Our Vegetables and Leaves
Tonight’s Organic vegetables and salad come from the farms of Denis Healy,
Alan Pierce and Mark Winterbotham in Kiltegan and Aughrim. They supply all the
vegetables year round for Macreddin Village
The Strawberry Tree is the only certified Organic Restaurant in Ireland.
(EEC) Regulation 1804/99 and in accordance with The Standards for Organic Food as set by the Dept. if Agriculture Together with The Organic Trust. It is illegal under regulation 1804/99 To store, prepare or serve conventional foodstuffs in The Strawberry Tree.
Organic and Wild Foods @ The Strawberry Tree
SO, WHAT’S ON THE MENU?
Or more to the point, what is not on the menu!
Conventional foods are not allowed in our kitchen at The Strawberry
Tree. So you can be sure that the ingredients supplied to us by the
Organic producers listed below not only taste better, but are fresher
than their conventional counterparts.
The framed Organic Licences at the entrance to the restaurant are a
comfort to us all in a time when everyone is concerned about
chemicals, pesticides and genetically modified foods. They are your
legal assurance that your meal will be as nature intended, fresh and
without any of the hidden additives of conventional foods…….enjoy!!
Michele Canosa, Italy Organic Olive Oil & Balsamic
Mary Davis, Ballymore Farm Organic Cream, Yoghurt, Butter
Denis Healy, Co. Wicklow Organic Fruit, Vegetables
Golden River Co. Wicklow Organic Vegetables
Independent Irish Health Foods, Co. Cork Organic Dry Goods
Good Herdsmen, Co. Tipperary Organic Beef
Wild Irish Game, Co. Wicklow Wild Game, Rabbit, Venison etc.
Oisin Farmhouse, Co. Limerick Organic Cheeses, Milk, Butter etc.
Sea Trade, Dunmore East Organic and Wild Fish
St. Tola, Co. Clare Organic Goats Cheese
Odaios Foods, Co. Dublin Organic Vinegar, Flour, Oil etc
Macreddin Herb Garden, Co. Wicklow Organic Flowers and Herbs
Mary Pawle Wines, Co. Kerry Organic Wines
Febvre Wines, Co. Dublin Organic and Conventional Wines
Bubble Brothers, Co. Cork Organic Wine and Champagne
Macreddin Bakery, Co. Wicklow Organic Breads and Biscuits
Connollys Eggs, Co. Monaghan Organic Eggs
Born Free Chickens, Co. Cork Organic Chicken
Imex, Italy Fairtrade Organic Coffee, Olive Oil, Cheese
15 Min, Scotland Organic Tea
Rob Roberts, Co. Dublin Organic Tea
Mark Winterbotham, Co. Wicklow Organic Pork
Alan Pierce, Co. Wicklow Organic Lamb
These artisan suppliers take tremendous pride in their trade of supplying world class produce to a restaurant in the garden of Ireland, called
the Strawberry Tree
“It would be nice if the government stopped issuing warnings about toxic
substances and just gave the names of one or two things still safe to eat”
“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.