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Nuremore Hotel, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan.

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Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ireland

+353 (0)42 966 1438

Price: € 120-200 (for two with wine)

Hours: Seven Days


Paolo plans a Christmas lunch with some friends every year, and several times the Nuremore has been the destination. Chef Raymond McArdle uses local ingredients and pushes the boundaries of food creating memorable dishes across the board. Here's some of Paolo's review.

Between us we covered all of these dishes, so we all got to taste a bit of everything. Dave, who was sitting beside me, was taking no chances at the ordering stage and ordered two starters, just to be sure he'd get to taste them. He needn't have worried, we're a sharing, caring group and our plates orbited the table like satellites. Before our starters arrived we got a dainty amuse bouche of a puree of cod wrapped in a slice of smoked salmon, a scallop on top of that and a tiny scoop of caviar on top of that. Two of our group, who never eat fish, were so taken by the look of it that they both tried it - quite a compliment to the chef. All of the starters were beautifully presented, especially the game terrine which came as a slice showing the patterns of the various meats bound together by their own aspic. I didn't taste the goats' cheese as I see a lot of it these days, but the crab and langoustine cocktail was really good.

The first taste of the Don Melchor from the decanter heralded the onset of the main courses. I'd chosen the monkfish tempura which was excellent; a crisp, thin batter enclosing the perfectly cooked monkfish. On my left Dave was eating pheasant which had been cooked just a little pink, which in my view is right for game. On my right Pilot John was enjoying his lamb cannon, although thankfully he was washing it down with just mineral water. Our lives were in his hands, I reminded him, a little unnecessarily. Across the table I got a forkful of the beef fillet, which was as tender as it ought to be, and lastly a taste of John's lamb. I had to keep reminding myself that this high quality food, extremely professional service and pleasing surroundings came with a price tag of €24. I know that for many restaurants lunch is an advertisement and is priced well below dinner prices, but by any standards this lunch was great value for money.

And the delights weren't over. Looking down the desserts I couldn't drag my eye away from the sticky toffee pudding. Nursery food still holds attractions for me - it's got that warm comforting feeling of sheltered childhood. But this was nothing like anything I ever got in the nursery; it was so light that the weight of my fork was enough to cut it. I describe only this dessert because that's the only one that got ordered. We had two half bottles of dessert wines to accompany this, a Beaumes de Venise and the Essencia Orange Muscat from California, which worked out at a glass each, just right for pudding wine.

After a meal as good as this, the temptation is to sit and linger but after we'd had a couple of coffees Pilot John was starting to fret. At this time of year the light goes fast and for all their versatility helicopters aren't great at flying in the dark. Seven very happy punters made their way back to Dublin, with plans already made for next year.

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