Established in 1985 as a restaurant by that great Limerick hotelier, Dan Mullane,The Mustard Seed started life in Adare and later moved just ten minutes drive away to Echo Lodge, a spacious Victorian hideaway set on seven acres of lovely gardens, with mature trees, shrubberies, kitchen garden and orchard - and very luxurious accommodation.
Comfort and generosity have always been the hallmarks, seen through decor and furnishings which bear the mark of a seasoned traveller whose eye has found much to delight in while wandering the world. Deciding to retire in 2016, Dan passed the baton to long time manager, John Edward Joyce, and this magical hideaway could not be in safer hands.
The Mustard Seed has immense appeal to many different types of guest and, although it is actually a four star hotel, it is an hotel like no other - its many special attributes make it a place apart, and it is a perfect destination for a romantic break or a few days pick-you-up in demanding times.
In addition to sumptuous accommodation in the main house, the more recent conversion of an old schoolhouse in the garden provides three newer superior suites, a residents' lounge and a small leisure centre with sauna and massage room - this stylish and more contemporary development offers something quite different from the original rooms and is in great demand from regular guests who make The Mustard Seed their base for golf and fishing holidays, and for business guests.
And The Mustard Seed is one of a minority of Irish hotels with an understanding that, for many people, pets are part of the family and they expect them to be treated accordingly. Far from the token pet friendliness of those who offer distant kennels or the use of an outhouse in the yard, the welcome to guests travelling with pets is genuine and thoughtful. Pets are allowed in most areas of the hotel, except the restaurant, and they can stay with their owners in a recently designated dog friendly room, or in suitable ground floor rooms with doors opening onto the garden - very handy, as you can pop out with your pet without having to go through the hotel reception areas.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant and it is a memorable experience. The highlight of a small but carefully selected buffet dsplay is the choice of luscious home grown fruits - and everything offered is delicious, including the fresh eggs produced by the hens housed just outside the kitchen. Hot dishes, including a house variation on the traditional Irish breakfast, are perfectly cooked and beautifully presented and the menu includes some less usual dishes, such as omelettes made with the renowned Ummera smoked chicken from West Cork.
The Mustard Seed Restaurant:
Food and hospitality are at the heart of The Mustard Seed and you are sure of a memorable dining experience here.
The evening begins with aperitifs in the Library, prettily served with a tasty amuse-bouche - and this attention to detail is confirmed in the beautiful dining rooms, where fresh garden flowers on each table are carefully selected to complement the decor.
The house tradition of excellent modern Irish cooking is underpinned by the wonderful organic produce supplied by the kitchen gardens - do allow time to see them before dinner and, perhaps, hazard a guess as to what will be on the menu - while other ingredients are carefully sourced from the region's organic farms and artisan food producers.
Menus are wide-ranging and very seasonal - the components of a delicious salad will be dictated by the leaves and herbs in season. Plum tomatoes and asparagus, in mid-summer perhaps, accompanied by a Parmesan, basil and a balsamic reduction, and the soup course - typically of roast vegetable - is also likely to be influenced by garden produce.
Main courses such as an unusual assiette of spring lamb (with chargrilled courgette cream, pressed shoulder, red gooseberry and walnut caramel) are based on the best local meats, seafood just up from the south-western fishing ports and seasonal game.
Each dish has its own thoughtfully considered garnish and, with such an abundance of garden produce, vegetarians need have no fear of being overlooked - every course features an unusual vegetarian offering.
Finish with Irish farmhouse cheeses at their peak of perfection, or gorgeous puddings, which are also likely to be inspired by garden produce.
Finally, irresistible home-made petits fours are served with tea or coffee, at the table or in the Library. All absolutely delicious - and, with service that is professional and efficient, yet always relaxed and warm, the hospitality here is truly exceptional.
After dinner, take a stroll through the lushly planted pleasure garden; there is even a special route - of just the right length - marked out for smokers. *(The Mustard Seed was selected for our Natural Food Award in 2005, presented in association with Euro-Toques.)
An interesting wine list includes an unusually wide range of half bottles, a couple of magnums and a wine of the month.
What a magical place this is.