Absolute Hotel is located in the centre of the city overlooking the Abbey River, recognisable by the neon blue lights at the top of the hotel which can be seen wherever you are. The hotel is contemporary with a young, vibrant feel to it. Absolute Bar & Grill is located on the first floor to the rear of the bar. It is a large open room with picture windows that run the length of the room overlooking the pretty Abbey River below and it is always a hive of activity making it the perfect spot for lunch, business or pleasure.
David Corbett, formerly of the Glasshouse Restaurant took over as head chef in June and has brought the menus back to life, keeping the focus on local ingredients and suppliers, and traceability. There is a choice of a set menu offering 3 courses for €25, with a lot of the options from the a la carte. To start you could choose from a selection starting at €3.50 for a plate of nibbles of Limerick market olives and almonds to €10 for Ted Browne's fresh Dingle crabmeat, while there are also West Cork organic mussels or spicy chicken wings. Soups and salads are also available as a starter or a light snack and for main courses there are some great dishes starting at €12 for a linguine & rocket pesto up to €23 for Absolute surf & turf, with other dishes such as a pork belly confit or 12 hour braised lamb shoulder pie which sounds great.
With a comprehensive wine list offering a good selection by the glass from €5.75 which include a Spanish sauvignon Blanc Campo Del Moro or an organic Chilean Panul. On average a bottle starts at €24 for a Villa Calappiano and goes up to €38.90 for a Chablis Le Cave D'Abbe. We chose the Chilean sauvignon Blanc Korta at €25.50, a crisp, fresh wine, very easy to drink.
To start I went with the chargrilled sourdough bruschetta. I had heard David introduced this onto the menu before we got there, using the only Irish Buffalo mozzarella from The Real Olive Company in Toonsbridge. I got a crispy bruschetta with sundried tomato pesto and melted mozzarella, easily one of the best I've ever eaten, while our daughter enjoyed the tempura prawns, a generous serving on a bed of seaweed salad with a ginger soy dip, they light and full of flavour. My husband had the seafood chowder, which was a very good example of this ubiquitous West coast soup.
To follow I had the deep fried panko coated fresh hake, served on a bed of minted pea puree which was delicious and a small bucket of homemade fries with a jar of tartar sauce made up the rear. Fred went with the surf & turf; an 8oz rib eye cooked to perfection with a skewer of grilled shrimp served on garlic roasted flat cup mushrooms with a side of handcut fries and Béarnaise sauce. Keisha had the chargrilled spiced lamb burger in a brioche bun served with fries and tzatsiki, and the cool sauce went wonderfully well with the spiced lamb.
Choices for dessert were so tempting you will certainly find it hard not to go there, with the likes of baked vanilla bean cheesecake with a walnut crust, date & pecan sticky pudding with a bourbon toffee sauce or a selection of Adare Farm ice creams. I went with the espresso crème brulee with hazelnut biscotti; it was so crisp on top and as smooth as silk within, while Fred had the flourless chocolate torte with honeycomb ice cream and raspberry coulis. I had to try as it looked divine; the chocolate was like velvet and went down a treat while Keisha didn't have to be asked twice about the Adare Farm ice cream.
Absolute are most certainly aiming to please and if you have not been before, it is a must on your next trip to Limerick. If you have been and revisit you will see David Corbett's stamp all over the restaurant, and the food is only getting better.