Set in twenty acres of parkland and gardens on the Hook Peninsula, just across the estuary from Waterford city, Catherine and Kevin Dundon’s elegant Georgian manor was the ancestral home of the Chichester family and the long tradition of hospitality at this tranquil and luxurious retreat is very much alive and well.
Well-proportioned public rooms, which include an impressive entrance hall and gracious drawing room, are all beautifully furnished and decorated with stunning flower arrangements and the occasional unexpectedly modern piece that brings life to a fine collection of antiques.
Spacious bedrooms, including those in a newer wing which blends perfectly with the original building, generally have superb bathrooms and offer all the comforts expected of such a house - and fine views over the gardens.
Converted outbuildings house a number of amenities, including what must be Ireland’s most stylish cookery school - designed to cater for all levels of cooks, from budding enthusiasts to the experienced gourmet - and, alongside it, a beautiful spa.
Behind these, in a former coach house, the Dundons have succeeded in providing something which is usually lacking in country house hotels - a rustic bar, with an authentic rural pub ambience. Aptly named 'The Local', this late week bar provides the perfect contrast to the smart-casual Dundon’s Champagne Seafood Bar & Terrace (located in the main house, see below), offering a laid-back experience and wholesome, hearty fare.
While Dunbrody is a dining destination for many guests, those staying overnight will also have an outstanding breakfast to look forward to: a magnificent buffet offers fresh juices, fruit compotes, cheeses, as well as hot dishes from a tempting menu. (It was the national winner of our Irish Breakfast Awards in 2004.)
While Dunbrody provides a wonderfully relaxing place for a leisure break, they also cater for business meetings, small conferences, product launches and incentive programmes (full details available on request).
Conference/banqueting (30/120). Secretarial services; video conferencing. Cookery school. Spa & beauty salon. Garden, walking. Children welcome (under 5s free in parents' room; cot available without charge, baby sitting arranged). No pets.
Rooms 22 (7 suites, 7 junior suites, 7 superior). B&B about €135 pps; ss €25. *A range of special breaks is offered (weekend, midweek, cookery, New Year); details on application. Open all year except Christmas.
The Harvest Room at Dunbrody:
The restaurant looks out on to a beautifully maintained pleasure garden and, beyond, to a promisingly productive organic vegetable and fruit garden. The dining room is a lovely well-proportioned room, with an open fire in winter and stunning flower arrangements all the time; it presents a striking blend of classic and contemporary style.
Likewise, Kevin Dundon and his head chef, Sebastien Geber (formerly of Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud), offer tempting menus that combine classical and international influences with local produce and Irish themes; the 8-course Tasting Menu can be adjusted to accommodate dietary requirements, including a vegetarian option, and it is excellent value (€80; with wine, €110). - and suppliers are given full credit: fresh fish is delivered daily from nearby Duncannon harbour, and shellfish from Kilmore Quay, and meats are supplied by Wallace’s butchers, of Wellington Bridge - and organic fruit, vegetables and herbs are, as far as possible, home grown.
Starters - which tend to be pretty and richly flavoured yet light – might include a lovely terrine of foie gras with honey-glazed fig, toasted brioche and raspberry coulis (a rich dish, but the portion is petite), and beautifully caramelised Dunmore East scallops with an unusual accompaniment of creamed sweetcorn with mustard cress & truffle shavings.
Kevin Dundon’s ‘eat local’ philosophy comes through on all his menus, and local meats like rack of Wexford lamb often top the bill - in a terrific house speciality, roast rack of lamb with a confit of shoulder (the slow-cooked meat shredded and served crispy), for example, which is a modern twist on a very traditional theme.
And meals at Dunbrody always end on a high note, so make sure you save a little space for a spectacular dessert – a duo of fruit jellies (raspberry and loganberry) with a minty tea granita, for example, is both beautiful and light...
Catherine leads a well-trained and efficient dining room staff with the charm and panache that typifies all aspects of the hospitality at this exceptional country house. The care and attention to detail seen in every dish is truly admirable, and presentation is masterly, adding to the enjoyment.
An informative wine list which leans towards the classics includes a nice selection of half bottles and wines by the glass. Sunday lunch offers particularly good value
*At the all-day Dundon’s Champagne Seafood Bar & Terrace - a stylish contemporary area with a temperature controlled wine cellar and another drawing room off it, and a lovely outside eating area under a white canopy – a smart menu offers about 20 items, half of them served in starter-sized portions, plus desserts and cheese; the food is delicious and served with the usual Dundon style: Hook Head haddock smokies come with grilled bread; beer-battered fish and chips with tartare sauce and a pea shot, and pretty frozen berries are laced with white chocolate sauce.
This stylish and reasonably priced casual food will introduce many new guests to this lovely house.