The Old Convent Gourmet Hideaway - County Tipperary
Dozens of interesting places hidden around Ireland come under the microscope when we’re considering this much sought-after award, and we’re happy to report that this country is very well endowed with well-run characterful places off the beaten track that please the many visitors who are looking for interesting and restful alternatives to the standard hotel offering.
We all have times when what’s really needed is a quiet couple of days pampering in a child-free zone need –for some this may mean a spa break but, for those in the know, a visit to Clogheen is the business.
There’s nowhere in Ireland even remotely like Dermot and Christine Gannon’s restaurant with accommodation. It’s in a beautiful, unspoilt - yet relatively little known - area, near the scenic ‘Vee’ in the Knockmealdown Mountains, and it’s very much itself: an unusual, very comfortable, stylishly decorated, country house with gorgeous rooms, and gardens under development as an interesting amenity for guests, and to grow home produce for Dermot’s kitchen.
For good food is the key element at the Old Convent: Dermot, who is one of Ireland’s most talented (and modest) chefs, offers unique, perfectly judged 9-course Tasting Menus using the best locally sourced ingredients - organic when possible, although it doesn’t look as if the recently acquired piglets will be heading for the pot!
The cooking is stunningly accurate, without a foam, drizzle or a smoke to be seen – and there’s no cheffy arrogance either so, although surplus to requirements, a (tiny) salt and pepper set is offered on tables.
Add charming service under Christine’s direction – and exceptionally delicious and original breakfasts – and it all adds up to a dream hideaway.