The Signal Restaurant at the Station House Hotel is now one of Meath’s leading hotel and restaurants. Once upon a time, there was a railway that ran through Kilmessan, and just as the name suggests, The Station House was the stop.
Present owners Thelma and Chris Slattery along with daughter Denise noow operate this family run business and have built it up from a small guesthouse into the destination and popular wedding venue it is today.
The railway ran through what is now the car park and the one-time signal box, a standalone building, has been prettily converted into a bridal suite. That's worth mentioning, because there are extensive grounds full of flowers and flowering shrubs to explore, and nestled in them is the old locomotive turntable, where wedding ceremonies are performed in the round.
Inside, there's a kind of chintzy comfort -- big comfy chairs in the lounge, plenty of dark wood and brass. Not surprisingly, the leitmotif is of railway memorabilia. There are prints on the walls and lots of artefacts that all make reference to the building's earlier incarnation. Even the door stop at the front door is a cast locomotive.
We had a drink in the bar, where we got a chance to read the menu, which offers great value. The set dinner is €34.95 for four courses, but the menu is constructed in such a way that you can go A la carte for slightly more per dish, but a nice option if you just fancy two courses; basically the prices here are very fair.
The wine list is quite long with a reasonable mark-up, and it is well matched to the menu, so you won’t have any trouble finding a wine to complement your food. We were driving and couldn’t partake, but bottles of sparkling water kept us happy.
Before the meal proper began, we were offered a choice of four different and good breads, all made in the kitchens, and then, as an amuse bouche, we each got a demi-tasse of beef and tomato soup. That's a combination I haven't had before, but it worked and I liked it.
Starters brought the scallops and black pudding for Deirdre, the scallops served with the roe still attached. Red onion marmalade added a tang and it was a well made and quite delicious dish. I had the signature smokies, which was a simple dish served with more of the homemade bread and topped with cheese. One a cold March evening in front of a now roaring fire it was the perfect comfort food.
Main courses brought the rack of local Kilmessan lamb for me, while Deirdre stuck to the sea and had the salmon. The lamb came as two very generous double chops off the rack, served with dangerously good potato gratin. Rosemary oil and well seasoned spinach accompanied as did a side of mashed potato and seasonal vegetables. It was quite delicious, the lamb had a real flavour that is so often missing, and the bones came home with us for a tasty treat for Rafa, our tiny Yorkie.
Deirdre’s salmon was poached in red Burgundy, with a confit of tomato and sweet onion, with new grange lemon herb oil. The salmon was perfectly cooked and I loved this unusual take on this classic dish. Deirdre also benefitted from the gratin, and managed to demolish the dish,
I don't have a particularly sweet tooth, but anyone who does would enjoy the dessert selection in The Station House. Ever one is expertly made in-house daily and we shared a delicious passion fruit panna cota with homemade biscuits.
We finished our meal with good coffee and enjoyed the heat of the fire before venturing out into the cold again. The Station House is a lovely spot. The next time we visit we will stay over and take full advantage, perhaps in the summer, when the garden is in full bloom. It’s well worth a visit, and at only 45 minutes from the city makes a fabulous overnight escape.