The 5 star Druids Glen resort is only half an hour outside Dublin in the heart of the County Wicklow. The very impressive entrance leads into a large open reception area, contemporary in décor with large marble tiles, open fire places and several relaxing seating areas. Once checked in we were given a full introduction to the facilities of the resort from the games area for the children, the library of movies and the leisure centre and spa suite.
With dinner booked in Hugo’s for 9pm we strolled down to The Thirteenth for a pre-dinner drink, Glen Special for myself and a pint for himself. Friday evening and the bar area, including the large overflow room were both full creating a good atmosphere. Everywhere were met with large open fires and there is very much an alpine feel with timber décor, high ceilings and large panoramic windows leading out to the most wonderful of views
The dining room is expansive and is divided into three areas, while outside is a large decked area with further seating. The restaurant was almost full and the staff seem to be working the room. Manager Peter brought us the menus and introduced us to our server who was looking after us for the evening. We are soon enjoying a selection of breads, including Guinness bread that we get a recipe card for, and nibbling away with some mineral water as we make our selection.
Their motto here is from farm to fork, serving the very best Wicklow has to offer and Executive Head Chef, Malek Hamidouche has created a new food philosophy for the hotel. Born and raised in Paris, Malek began cooking from a young age inspired by his father and grandfather who were both chefs and under their guidance, his passion for food was born. After culinary art college in Paris, Malek refined his skills at a number of luxury establishments which included Michelin star restaurant, La Ferme Saint Simon, Hyatt Regency Paris and at the former Michelin star Mint Restaurant in Dublin.
Our server for the evening was Loic Lelay, whom could not have been more helpful. He recommended a white Bordeaux which I have to say I would probably have skipped over, but it was marvelous, Chateau Haut Grelot Sauvignon Blanc. At €39.00 a bottle it fell midway through the list ranging from €24 to €88.00, with lots of choice and the option of half bottles and wines by the glass.
The menu is not extensive but really well put together, with 6 or 7 choices for each course. Starters had options including soup, foie gras, goat’s cheese, monksfish or salmon. I went with the jasmine & lime cured monkfish carpaccio which was presented like a work of art with a mix of wonderful colours and textures and tasted as good as it looked. It was delicate and light with the sweet of the tomato salsa and the sour of the pickled cauliflower. Fred opted for the chef’s special, a taste of duck; duck done three ways, terrine, confit and smoked served on slate with a mix of flavours of plum and carrot.
The mains had an array of meats, game and fish including beef, chicken and pork. I had the fillet of Atlantic hake and lobster ravioli with a fennel & lobster emulsion; perfectly cooked fish and delicate ravioli were a sparkling combination.
This time himself went with the dry aged Glasan Farm sirloin steak with roast shallot, fondant potato and a pepper sauce.
Dessert was a struggle as we were all nicely full but we decided to share Druids Glen homemade Pavlova, made with tropical fruits and served with coconut ice cream and chocolate sauce, and it was really light and very refreshing. There were some other great choices including chocolate temptation, a selection of cheeses or their signature dessert of Wexford strawberry crème brulee.
With an amaretto coffee to finish off for me and a brandy for Fred we strolled back to the bar where there was some live music and before we knew it it was well past one am in the morning.
Druid’s Glen is a gem within easy striking distance of Dublin, and yet far enough away to make it feel like a break. Well worth a visit.
** The Thirteenth Pavillion Bar is another great dining option at the resort and also a good choice for the children to dine earlier in the evening as after 7pm Hugo’s is only for the grown-ups.