Feargal O’Donnell - a prominent Euro-Toques chef - and his wife, Fiona, chose well when they took over a pub in the charming almost-waterside ‘village of the roses’, near Athlone.
Their informal style, with food that offers a timely combination of gastro-pub and contemporary fine dining in a family-friendly atmosphere, is bang on the nail – and this venture achieved well earned early success.
Well known for his commitment to seasonal and local foods, Feargal’s enticing, frequently changed, menus promise innovative modern Irish food in both the bar and restaurant, with suppliers including Donald Russell meats, McGeough's of Oughterard (famed for their cured meats), Jane Russell sausages and Fagan Foods of Athlone (quality chicken and duck) detailed on the menu.
Also reflecting Feargal's passion for the best, the wine list offers a diverse collection of carefully selected bottles, with over 20 (including the Torres Natureo de-alcoholised muscadet) available by the glass; some unusual draught beers are offered at the bar too, and the drinks list includes a great choice of Irish craft beers and Longueville House Irish cider alongside the 'old reliables', all of which adds greatly to the dining experience.
While offering many popular dishes, menus spell out quality in every detail - the toasted sandwich of honey roast Irish chicken comes in a Waterford blaa; the cheese in the blue cheese salad is Bellingham Blue; the rillette of salmon is made with home smoked Clare Island organic salmon; the prawns in the wontons are proper Dublin Bay prawns (langoustine); the chicken and ham in the eponymous pie is from Castlemine Farm in Co Roscommon...nothing ordinary comes out of this kitchen. But beware when ordering - while quality often implies smaller portions, that's not the case at The Fatted Calf, where there's terrific generosity of spirit (and half portions are available for children under 14).
Excellent, stylish cooking is matched by friendly and efficient service - and, as well as good food and a relaxed ambience, this attractive pub-restaurant has ample parking, outdoor seating and plenty of space for children to run around. And, while quality food can never be cheap, the value offered is good, notably on the lunch and Midweek Supper menus.
Special occasion cakes can be made to order too.