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Ireland’s Leading Independent Food & Hospitality Guide
Although always popular, Sunday lunch has moved into a whole new phase of late and it can be a seriously classy outing, where the venue is chosen with care so that family members of all ages can get together in lovely surroundings and enjoy the very best of food - and at a more reasonable price than is usual at dinner. It’s an especially appealing proposition in spring too, as the days are lengthening - perhaps a voucher could be the perfect treat for Mother’s Day. And accommodation is available at (or very near) all of the suggestions below, so why not make a job of it and take Monday off?
Viewmount House, Longford, Co Longford
Some of the best meals we have had in recent years have been Sunday lunches – and the atmospheric 'VM' Restaurant at James and Beryl Kearney’s elegant Georgian property, Viewmount House, is one of the best - demonstrating that it can be done with great style and no compromise in quality, in terms of the food, cooking, surroundings or service. ‘VM’ is one of those exceptional restaurants where every meal is a real treat, with all the little niceties observed. Suppliers are credited with pride and the cooking, by well known Euro-Toques chef Gary O’Hanlon and his team, is consistently pleasing - innovative yet respectful of tradition. Any visit to this delightful restaurant is sure to be a memorable experience and, not only should diners allow plenty of time to enjoy a stroll around the beautiful gardens, but it’s well worth thinking about an overnight stay in this lovely house too. ??
MacNean House & Restaurant
Blacklion, Co Cavan
People travel amazing distances for the pleasure of one of Ireland’s most exceptional dining experiences - well, over 15 years ago, when a reader wrote in to tell us (at The Sunday Press) about this great little place, we got out the map, found Blacklion, and drove up from Dublin for Sunday lunch. Mad? Not a bit of it, it was magic then and it’s even more so today - just that everyone knows Neven now, so you may have to book many weeks in advance, even though they do two Sunday lunch sittings. Neven cooks perfectly judged food that showcases meticulously sourced ingredients from the local and artisan producers he so strongly advocates - and you can stay overnight, although weekends are heavily booked months in advance. It’s worth planning for, though – an experience to treasure.
Clonegal, Co Carlow
On the borders of Wexford, Carlow and Wicklow, a fine 18th century building in this charming riverside village is home to Henry and Stephanie Stone’s beautifully appointed and atmospheric little restaurant. With welcoming fires for chilly days and a pretty courtyard for sunny ones, it is a destination of choice for the many discerning diners who appreciate outstanding, beautifully simple, seasonal cooking and delightful service. A visit for Sunday lunch makes a great day out and, afterwards, a visit to historical Huntington Castle might be recommended - the entrance is just around the corner and everything is within walking distance; the gardens are open to the public and, not only may tours of the house also be available, but this interesting place offers B&B too.
Newrath Bridge, Rathnew, Co Wicklow
Set in lovely gardens alongside the River Vartry, this much-loved hotel is one of Ireland’s oldest coaching inns. It's run by fifth generation brothers, Richard and Tom Gelletlie, who offer old-fashioned comfort and food based on local and home-grown produce. There’s a proper little bar and a traditional dining room overlooking the beautiful garden where their famous afternoon tea is served in summer. Seasonal lunch and dinner menus change daily, but you may expect classics like traditional roast rib beef with Yorkshire pudding, or old-fashioned roast stuffed chicken with bacon and deliciously simple seasonal desserts such as fresh raspberries and cream. Sunday lunch is a particular treat and the whole experience is delightful. There’s nowhere else in Ireland anything like it.
Shanagarry, Co Cork
Ah now, what can be said about Ballymaloe that hasn’t been said before? Not a lot, in truth, but even the most jaded palate will be delighted by the simplicity and real flavour of everything offered for Sunday lunch here. As is well known, a food philosophy that centres on using only the highest quality ingredients is crucial to everything done at Ballymaloe, where much of the produce comes from their own farm and gardens and the rest, including seafood from Ballycotton and Kenmare, comes from the very best local producers and suppliers. And the other half of the satisfaction equation is that they don’t mess it around - what you get here is pretty much the perfect home-cooked Sunday lunch, even with second helpings of the main course offered, and gentle, unbossy service. A meal here is a treat of the highest order, so make sure you arrive in good time to enjoy the gardens, or an aperitif in the Drawing Room. No wonder everyone just loves it.
Gorey, Co Wexford
Any excuse will get us heading down Wexford way of a Sunday, for the pleasure of experiencing a seriously sophisticated luncheon outing - a gorgeous 4-course fine dining lunch in the Conservatory Dining Room - or an informal lunch in the atmospheric terrace restaurant, The Duck, which overlooks some of the most beautiful- and most productive - gardens in the South-East. Hosted by sisters Margaret and Laura Bowe, Marlfield House has become one of the region’s most desirable dining destinations for all occasions, and Sunday Lunch is one of the most relaxing. As well as excellent food, there is often something extra on offer – Sunday lunchtime recitals are a special attraction in spring and summer, for example, with the bonus of very special bed and breakfast rates if you want to stay the night before (or after) the event. It’s hard to think of a more civilised way to spend a Sunday.
The Olde Poste Inn
Cloverhill, Co Cavan
Gearoid and Tara Lynch's restaurant is in an old stone building in a neatly landscaped garden which served as a post office until 1974 and, since then, has made an atmospheric inn. A committed Euro-Toques chef, Gearoid won the Euro Toques Young Baileys Chef award in 2000 and is a former Commissioner General of Euro-Toques Ireland. This speaks volumes for his commitment to careful sourcing of ingredients, thereby supporting local producers and showing respect for regional and seasonal foods - a philosophy which is abundantly clear to anyone reading the supplier list on one of his (invariably enticing) menus. This – together with the lovely service provided by Tara and her team - has made the Olde Post a destination for food lovers. Any meal here would be a treat, but Sunday lunch is especially enjoyable - and, with comfortable rooms upstairs too, it’s a lovely spot for a foodie break. ??
Dunbrody Country House Hotel & Cookery School
Arthurstown, Co Wexford
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 has a long tradition of hospitality - and fans who beat a path to the door of one of Ireland’s best known and most popular chefs are unlikely to be disappointed. What must be Ireland’s most stylish cookery school is in converted outbuildings just across from the front door (and, alongside it, a beautiful little spa) and, in the main house, guests can see the team at work in the Kevin’s magnificent kitchens. And the food experience here really is outstanding – the lovely, serene Harvest Room overlooks the gardens and, although mainly an evening restaurant, Sunday lunch here is a very special treat indeed. If you love upbeat classical cooking, don’t miss their roast beef: simply superb. For a more informal alternative, Dundon’s Champagne Seafood Bar & Terrace (2-10 daily) offers a stylish contemporary treat - and, for good measure, you’ll find a totally different experience across the yard at their own traditional pub, The Local, which is full of rustic charm and very handily located?? right beside their craft ABC (Arthurstown Brewing Company) brewery!
Kilmore Quay Lisnaskea Co Fermanagh, BT92 0DT
Spectacularly situated on the shores of Lough Erne, this impressive restaurant with rooms offers stunning views over the lough and the lovely rolling countryside beyond. French chef and fishing enthusiast Pascal Brissaud came to the county a number of years ago to fish, and the charm of rural life enticed him to stay and, together with his partner Valerie Smith, build this striking thatched restaurant with rooms. It’s full of French character and there is much of interest outside too, as visitors can stroll through the water gardens or admire Pascal’s vegetable garden, which provides most of the vegetables and herbs for the restaurant. It’s a lovely setting for Pascal’s cooking, which is ‘Irish with a French twist’. There is usually a sumptuous choice, with local produce to the fore and lobster, scallops and Angus beef among the specialities when available, and, while it is open every day from late afternoon, it is an especially interesting place for a Sunday lunch outing.?
Station House Hotel
Kilmessan, Co Meath
The old-fashioned charms of the Station House Hotel have for decades been one of the many good reasons to visit County Meath, and Sunday lunch provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy it. The idea behind the place is delightful, with all the different parts of the old station finding new uses (there’s even a little honeymoon suite in the signal box), the gardens have a lovely, real country look and the restaurant, which is spread over two rooms, is traditionally furnished in a refreshingly un-trendy style. While not at all cutting edge (this is a place, after all, where guests are urged to ‘step off the fast track’), the cooking is comfortingly traditional and there is something very relaxing about the experience.
Stillorgan, Co Dublin
In sensitively modernised 18th century coach house and stables, Dublin city's oldest restaurant has been in the Cox family for over 50 years and - although both the decor and the menu have a pleasingly contemporary slant these days - it remains full of character. Upstairs the Loft Brasserie offers atmospheric evening dining, while The Coachhouse restaurant downstairs is open for weekend lunches and groups. Surrounded by beautiful mature gardens it feels like a lovely country retreat; a summer Sunday lunch here is a special treat, with the outdoor patio offering a wonderful place to drink in the atmosphere while enjoying an aperitif or postprandial drinks.