Hatters Lane Bistro situated on Strand Street in the centre of Athlone is a real step back in time. Hatters Lane is part of Gerties Browne’s pub, and there has been a hostelry on this spot for centuries.
Inside it’s a step back in time; the gingham table cloths and dark red booths in the old style wood setting, bring to mind a saloon in a John Houston movie, while pictures of Hollywood stars are mounted on the walls. It’s eclectic, in an old fashioned way and quite charming, with an open fireplaces, stained glass windows and book shelves adding to the ambience.
There is a value menu which is available all evening Monday through Thursday and from 5.30 – 6.30pm at weekends, which offers 2 courses for €20 and 3 courses for €25. You’ll find a selection of starters such as homemade soup served with freshly baked breads, spicy chicken wings or BBQ pork belly ribs with hoi sin sauce. Mains include crispy confit duck, Cajun chicken or a spinach and ricotta bake. Desserts are really tempting with sticky toffee pudding or lemon tart. There is also an a la carte that offers a far more extensive selection with 9 starters ranging from €4.25 to €7.50 with different dishes like gorgonzola and spinach tart, potato cake and black pudding or Hatters style mussels. Moving onto mains, they are broken down into ‘from the grill’, steaks, fish and pasta & vegetarian dishes all ranging in price from €14-25.00. Watch the blackboard for their specials, which do change daily. All their desserts are homemade, and I am sure they’re very bold, but sound really delicious.
There is a new wine list with a selection of full, half bottles and carafes. Prices range from €18 to €38 fro a bottle, down to a glass of the house for only €5. We shared a bottle of New Zealand Montant Sauvignon Blanc at €24, which was a really crisp light wine, and proved a good choice.
We enjoyed starters of potato cake and black pudding served with a mango butter sauce, along with the mussels cooked in white wine, with garlic and shallot broth. Both were really well prepared, the mussels being a classic. We followed the good start with a half roast duck which was served pink - just as I like it - with an orange and balsamic reduction. I had a nice savoury stuffing and was served with vegetables and potato. Himself chose the char-grilled beef kebabs with a jalfrezi curry sauce and wild rice, a good, if unusual choice, but mine definitely won dish of the day. We couldn’t resist sharing the warm crepes stuffed with ice cream and smothered with chocolate sauce.