The Village at Lyons is a destination venue in every sense of the word. Whether you want to take a walk around the grounds, have a pot of tea and some homemade scones in the Canal Cafe, investigate one of Ireland’s unique wedding venues, or try the fine dining experience that is La Serre restaurant, it ticks all the boxes. Located just a short drive from the city, it’s a slice of rural elegance on the doorstep of the city.
The long drive up from the main gate is the first taste of what’s to come. The main entrance is over low bridge up to the heavy castle door. Inside you are into a large reception/bar area with a massive seven foot open fireplace, which was home to a roaring fire. Given the evening we were there - freezing cold and pouring rain - this was a marvelous welcome.
La Serre is on the other side of the building, and we pass through elegant corridors and the function room to the right. There is a comfortable seating area outside the restaurant while inside it’s divided between two rooms, an inside traditional dining room, and a large Georgian conservatory with huge exposed stone walls, another large fireplace, and vines and climbing the walls which gives the room an outdoor feeling. The atmosphere created is informal and relaxed.
La Serre opens for lunch and dinner. Both menus offer exceptional value for money, for somewhere that I would consider quite special. The dinner menu offers two courses for €30 and three for €40. The menu, I would suggest, reads as good quality modern Irish food with a twist. For example starters include dishes like Irish goats cheese and beetroot, with candied pecans and mesclun salad leaves, or pan seared scallops with chorizo, tomato sauce and potato foam. Main courses offer a good selection of fish, meat and poultry, and examples include cod with quinoa, spiced aubergine, slow roast tomato and garlic cream or something very simple like prime Irish rib eye steak with hand cut chunky chips, hot pepper sauce and dressed leaves while desserts cater to the classic with apple crumble, lemon tart or a warm chocolate brownie.
The first part of the wine list is short and well put together with a choice of sparkling wines, red and white from traditional French to new world. I saw a favourite, the Domaine Millet, a French Sancerre I recently discovered and really enjoy. Priced at €44, this was towards the upper end of the road on the wine list, but we were both happy with this choice. The second part of the list highlights the fine wines form the Lyons cellar and feature a selection of Grand Cru’s from some of the most famous of the French Chateaux. There are some very good wines here around the €100 mark, with some quite spectacular choices at up to €1000.
I ordered house cured salmon served with fennel and apple salad, apple and .lavender jelly and lemon crème fraiche while the tall dark gentlemen across the table opted for duck cannelloni, with girolles puree, sweet corn, truffle and cornichon salad. The accompaniment to the main ingredients here gave the dishes interesting twits, but brought out the flavours and complemented the salmon and duck really well. We were off to a good start.
Main courses continued to impress, I had the duck breast served with fondant potato, braised red cabbage and butternut squash puree while he went with rare breed pork with roast potatoes, celeriac and apple puree, spinach, trompettes and peas. The duck was pretty much perfect, but the star here was the pork, where the flavours jumped off the plate and grabbed your attention.
Presentation and attention to detail on all dishes was spot on, you could see the passion with which the chef had prepared each dish.
The evening in La Serre was lovely; we enjoyed our meal and finished our wine over the course of the evening. We decided that even though we were perfectly satisfied, we would chance a shared dessert as they were all so tempting. We chose vanilla cheesecake with blackcurrant sorbet and berry compote. A nice surprise was that the base of the cheesecake was sponge as opposed to the traditional biscuit base; the vanilla was fresh and light while the sorbet was tangy and very refreshing.
The ambience was relaxing and made us want to spend the entire evening, which was exactly what we did. I can imagine on a summer’s day it would be the perfect place for a Sunday lunch looking out into the open courtyard, followed by a walk around the grounds or along the canal.