The Vaughan family’s classic old-fashioned small seaside village hotel is in the heart of Roundstone and enjoys a great view over the harbour and distant Connemara hills, from both public areas and many of the comfortable en-suite rooms.
During the busy summer season there is a brisk bar food trade with its own menu, as well as formal dining in the hotel restaurant. The emphasis throughout is on local seafood.
This is a lovely room, partly stone walled, with the country warmth of an earlier, less frenetic, era: Newbridge silverware, white linen napery, flowers, muted background music and candlelight. The atmosphere is emphasised by good service from relaxed and attentive staff, all female.
Starters include a good range of seafood - crab claw, chowder, stuffed mussels etc - all served with a distinctively light and crunchy homemade brown soda bread.
A portion of 14 stuffed mussels in its own special platter is as good a dish of its kind as one would find anywhere, and a tossed salad in a lemon dressing and a tower of fresh crab with beetroot and curried mayonnaise is also particularly recommended.
Meat eaters are well catered for with main courses of sirloin, fillet steak, and rack of lamb (all around the €28 mark), while several fish mains may include monkfish, and fillet of hake in cider sauce at similar prices.
Main courses that demonstrate the quality of ingredients might include a large half Silver Hill duck roasted with a tangy orange sauce, and scallops fried with bacon and turbot in prawn sauce - both dishes testament to capable cooking.
Traditional sauces strongly influenced by cream and butter may be too much for some, but there is no doubting the fine flavours and rich results. Butter and cream feature too, in a gorgeously garlicky potato gratin, served separately with broccoli al dente and purées of parsnip and carrot.
Desserts are of the generous, unexceptional, lots-of-cream kind such as meringue (commercial) with fruit, banoffee pie, strawberry cheese cake and apple tart. Very good La Scala coffee ends a meal here on a high note.
The wine list, of about forty bottles, is informative and offers a good balance. A reasonably priced mix of old and new world includes a notable red, Chateau de Flore, Cahors 2004, €29.50. Whites, served in a Judy Greene pottery cooler, include a fruity acidic, zesty Pouilly Fumé, Emmanuelle Mellot 2008, €32.50 .
Three red and three white house wines are all €18.50, and the eight half bottles offered include a French rosé, Rose D’Anjou, Chateau de la Roulerie 2008, €21.50, and good Rioja El Coto €12, but no wines are offered by the glass (quarter bottles instead).