Mitchel House Restaurant is on Mitchel Street, in the heart of Thurles, just off the main square where the GAA was founded in Hayes Hotel. Owner Michael O’Dwyer opened the restaurant in 2007, having returned to Thurles after years of globe trotting. He is the third generation of his family to operate a business on the premises, as previously his father and grandfather before him ran a public house.
Mitchel House is on the right as you come from Square, and presents a modern facade. Inside the room is very pleasing, with polished wooden floors and light walls. There is a large bar running down the side wall, and tables and chairs are modern wood, and well spaced. The main dining room is divided by curved wooden walls that double as the back of feature booths in the centre of the room and the back wall has upholstered banquette seating, in vibrant red velvet. Off to one side there is a smaller dining area, and another still, which can be used as a private dining area. Outside there are more tables and a bar, which are used during the summer for barbeques and which offers a comfortable destination for the smoking clientele.
The chef is a young man who takes his Eurotoques membership seriously. Brendan Sheridan has devised a menu based on local strengths, with interesting presentation flourishes. Starters are all around €8 – excellent value – and include deep fried Brie or baked St. Tola’s goat’s cheese with beetroot and sweet potato, grilled fish cakes or warm crab claws. Main courses are longer and range in price from €15 for Spinach Tagliatelle to €22.50 for the grilled sirloin steak. Other options include baked salmon, roast duck, medallions of pork or a roast fillet of monkfish.
The wine list is short, but well chosen and prices and we picked a glass each of the Chardonnay and Sauv Blanc, as well as sparkling water. A small whole loaf of obviously homemade bread came with our drinks. They make a different flavour each day, this one being mild curry and spring onion, and as soon as we cut into it, the smell wafted towards us. I wish more restaurants would do this; it’s an interesting way to serve the bread, and I like it immensely.
We shared a starter of the warm crab claws, served in a garlic and spring onion butter, which we mopped up with the remains of the bread. There was a griddled potato cake in there as well, which was well made a soft inside, and complemented the light crab claws beautifully.
The Tipperary Girl enjoyed a main course of medallions of pork which had an Oriental twist, served tossed with scallions, apricots, honey and Soya, and were served with fried potatoes. I enjoyed the roast Monkfish, on a light potato cake, and accompanied by crab and shrimp parcels, which added an extra dimension and were shared, albeit under duress.
We couldn’t manage a dessert, but finished with two good coffees. The restaurant was fairly packed on a Weekend night, but service throughout was friendly and efficient. We liked Mitchel House. Thurles deserves a good restaurant, and it’s got it in Mitchel House. This has to be your first choice in Thurles.