The Annebrook House Hotel is on Austin Friars Street in the centre of Mullingar. This family run gem overlooks the People’s Park and mixes the old and the new in a way that really works. Once in the grounds you are faced with the old house with a beautiful façade dating back more than a hundred years, while to the right is a modern extension. The reception area and bar are in the new section on the right and they have added family apartments to the left.
The Old House Restaurant is located in the cellar of the main house. The restaurant has a lot of the original features from the period house, including the beautiful exposed limestone walls and period fireplaces. The cellar is a series of interconnecting rooms that offer smaller and larger spaces for different sized groups, and privacy for those who wish it.
With marble floors, exposed brickwork, low ceilings and the open fireplace a truly intimate ambience is created. Candles on all the tables and low hanging lights give a dimly lit feel. The music in the background will bring you back to eras gone by with everything from the 70’s and earlier, I found my foot tapping away to the beat subconsciously.
With the menu you can choose two courses for €19.95 or three for €23.95. There are also additions to the menu which are supplemented separately. Specials are displayed on the blackboard and on the night there was a tomato soup and a main of sea bass on Puy lentils.
Starters offer choices like seafood bon bons, baby gem Caesar salad or a warm pressed ham hock. For mains we choose between pan roast chicken supreme, braised cheek of beef or wild mushroom and spinach orzo. Various steaks appear with a supplement as does the pan roast fillet of bream or lamb shank Shepherds pie. As we were waiting for starters chef sent chicken amuse Bouche to the table which was a pleasant surprise and really good; it got the taste buds working.
The wine list is well chosen and between €20.00 for a French Touraine Caves de la Tourangelle up to €55.00 for a Domaine de la Cotes D’Lange Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. We started with a Riesling which was so full of fruity flavour Kate and I stuck with it throughout the meal, and it was well priced at €25.00. Aine discovered a bottle of Don David which she really likes so that was her choice.
I loved the scallops with Jerusalem artichoke puree and chorizo which were cooked perfectly, with a delicate flavour and the chorizo offering punch and balance. Aine started on the seafood bon bons with chilli ketchup and tartare sauce, which were dinky and dainty and proved another great choice. Kate had the home cured beetroot salmon Gravalax with horseradish, dill & rye bread. She got a taste for Gravalax in Iceland, and assured it was a very good rendition.
When it came to main courses we all went separate directions; I went with the seared fillet of hake, Aine had the 8oz fillet and Kate chose the special of sea bass served on Puy lentils. The fish was perfectly cooked au Pointe, and we all had roast vegetables on the side with a simple green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
When it came to dessert we just couldn’t say no, and decided on two – we shared the cappuccino crème brulee with biscotti & pistachio ice cream and a vanilla panna cotta with fresh raspberries and homemade shortbread. Prior to dessert arriving we had a lemon sorbet palate cleanser which was so refreshing, it left us well up for the two confections, and we polished them off in short order.
The head chef here is a young man called Paul Phillips, who has re-launched this restaurant with some style and not a little skill. Not surprising perhaps as Paul recently represented Ireland in the Parade des Chefs competition in London, where ten young Irish chefs took on the world.
If you are looking for a fine dining experience in a relaxed old world atmosphere visit Annebrook House Hotel; we had a fine meal and spent the remainder of the evening chatting in front of the fire over good wines and excellent coffee.