The Lemon Tree Café at Dunmore East Harbour has gone from strength to strength, with a great reputation for fabulous food that’s reasonably priced. It’s run by Joan Power, who many locals would have known from having run the local hotel for many years, and now with five years under her belt at The Lemon Tree, she has a new reputation to live up to.
Every time we visit we seem to be blessed with the weather and this week was no different as Ireland was in the middle of a heat wave. Dunmore East was buzzing with locals and tourists overflowing into the streets from all the bars, restaurants and cafes, the beach was packed and there wasn’t a parking space to be had for miles, but we were lucky; it seems luck shone on us as well as sun.
The Lemon Tree Café has two fabulous decked areas to the front of the restaurant, just for such a day. Inside it’s divided into two areas, to the left are the kitchens and counters for carry out while to the right is a more formal setting when people want to dine in.
Service runs from breakfast through lunch and into a more special offering for dinner. We visited for lunch and with Joan in the kitchens preparing all kinds of delicacies, and Louise at front of house, service runs very smoothly.
There was a choice of six starters ranging in price from €4.50 for soup of the day to €8.50 for cockles and mussels tossed in garlic butter and served with homemade brown bread. There were also locally caught sprats, roast nut loaf or bruschetta with goats cheese and roast peppers. Fred fancied the seafood chowder and dug in to a very hearty bowl of mixed fish, which he deemed delicious.
The mains started at €10.50 for panfried fish cakes and went to €16.95 for the lamb chump steak, with a selection of burgers including prawns, mushroom or the traditional beef. All the specials were displayed on the blackboard and were priced between €9.50 for an open salmon sandwich to €16.50 for Dunmore lobster tossed in garlic, herbs and cream. Seafood was the main focus on all menus which given our seaside location I was delighted to see.
Their wine list is short and well priced, with a selection of nine whites and the same of red from €20.00 for a bottle of French Les Vigneaux to €49.50 for Chateau Gessan St Emillion Grand Cru. There is also a choice of .5l carafes for €11.00 or a glass for €5.00. Being almost 30 degrees outside and driving I thought it better on this occasion to stick to the water.
From the nibbles and light meals side of the menu there was a selection of sandwiches, tapas style dips and many variations of salads from new potatoes and mackerel to chicken and bacon and an old favourite, which was what I chose, Dunmore East crab & avocado with a Marie Rose sauce. The crab and avocado were so plentiful, and as I thought couldn’t have been fresher.
Our smaller guest had homemade chicken goujons, which unlike some other establishments were real chicken pieces, lightly breaded as opposed to desiccated factory made rubbish.
Fred had a bowl of his secret addiction, seafood chowder, and declared it ‘fabulous and loaded with seafood’. He then followed on with one of the specials - a braised lamb shank with dauphinose potatoes and seasonal vegetables - moist and succulent it fell straight off the bone, and was comfort food personified.
Desserts change daily and there is always a great display to tempt you, all priced at €5.50, and may include chocolate roulade meringue, baked vanilla cheesecake or homemade apple pie and cream. Slightly lighter you can also find chocolate chip cookies the size of your face to go with a great coffee
The evening menu is a more formal occasion and very popular so all I’d say is book so as to be sure of a table. The Lemon Tree is one of my favourite spots in the ‘most definitely sunny south east’, and we will be back when in the area.