Having run the highly regarded Hudson’s Bistro, in Navan Co Meath, for many years before ‘retiring’ to Co Mayo, Richard and Tricia Hudson were not long resting before they were back at their old tricks. And, true to form, Hudson's Pantry is a lovely unpretentious place, the kind of place everyone loves going into when out in the far West... a must for both locals and visitors to the greater Westport area. .
Right on the street, near the Diamond (the crossroads in the centre of the town), it’s a quietly attractive premises with a pretty blue frontage. Inside, the bright and airy room is reminiscent of an old-style English teashop - timber floors and wall panelling, bric-à-brac and pictures dotted around.
The welcome is warm and friendly, menus are presented and explanations given by Tricia – and, as there’s only a serving counter dividing Richard’s kitchen from the dining room, customers chat away with him over the counter.
Water and delicious homemade bread arrive while you struggle to choose from well-priced menus offering 8-10 dishes on each course, plus a specials board. Begin, perhaps, with a big bowl of excellent Mayo mussels in white wine and garlic (the addition of caperberries gives the dish an interesting twist) or a soup such as a ‘gentle and heartwarming’ lentil and lemon.
Main courses are international in style, strongly favouring sunny Mediterranean tones, and especially the Spanish/Moorish dishes that are dear to Richard's heart.
Blackboard fish dishes are written up at 5pm each day when the fresh fish is in. Plaice Sardinian style is typical - simply pan-fried Killybegs plaice, with a warm dressing of extra virgin olive oil & lemon juice blended with diced olives, sundried tomatoes, preserved lemons and capers - and you’ll also find plenty of chicken, steak and interesting vegetarian dishes.
Tapas dishes are offered at a flat rate of €8, while ''difficult choice'' mains include local scallops, ray, black sole and lobster, and there will almost certainly be Clare Island organic salmon too (probably the best farmed salmon in Ireland); including potatoes or couscous and vegetables, fish dishes are a steal at €21-23.
To finish, choose from nine gorgeous desserts (all homemade except ice creams); anyone for Chocolate Indiscretion? There is also a proper children’s menu(€10), offering a choice of four real main courses, plus two desserts and a mini hot chocolate drink.
An interesting wine list of 32 wines includes many old world bottles, with 2 house wines at €18 /€4.50 by the glass. Wines range from €18 to €44, with 18 under €25 - great value these days.