The Sandhouse Hotel is only 10 minutes from Ballyshannon in the seaside resort of Rossnowlagh. The hotel sprang to some fame in 2012 when longtime manager Paul Diver bought it out of receivership, saving the business and jobs for the local area.
The Sandhouse Hotel is known for many different reasons; relaxation, welcoming staff and great food. A haven that is elegant in an understated way, the hotel is fortunate to have two dining rooms, one on the first floor overlooking the blue flag beach and one on the ground floor to the front of the building. The dining room on the ground floor is a traditional dining room, with antique furniture in a period style setting. Upstairs, the dining room is divided into three, with timber floors and tables positioned around the walls, all fully set with white linen cloths. Huge picture windows make you feel as if you could touch the ocean. On a balmy, sunny evening with the beach full of children flying kites, couples walking all set with a fabulous sunset, you wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else.
A jug of iced water and warm bread rolls were brought to the table as we browsed through the menus. Appetizers are priced between €6-8.00 and offer crispy coated goat’s cheese, fish cakes with hollandaise sauce, a classic bruschetta or Cajun chicken salad. Mains are all priced at €19.95 except the sirloin steak or stuffed loin of lamb which both carry a €3.50 supplement. There are some great fish dishes including seabass or a warm seafood platter, and meats are present with escalope of pork and chicken wrapped in Parma ham. All dishes are served with a selection of potatoes and vegetables.
The wine is extensive without been overbearing, and features a good selection of French wines as well as varieties from around the world. Prices are from €20.00 for most of the house wines including Chilean Emiliana and Swallows Tale, and goes to €110 for a big red burgundy – Volnay Caillerets 1999. We decided to go by the glass as I enjoy white while my husbands loves nothing more than a good red. I chose Swallows Tale sauvignon Blanc and he had a French burgundy Beaujolais Villages, both good choices and from the list recommended by the house.
I started with timbale of mixed seafood which was served on salad with pepper salsa, while Fred enjoyed red pepper & courgettes soup and our daughter had the Gallia melon and fresh strawberries which came with apricot coulis and champagne sorbet. The timbale of seafood was a tower of crab, salmon and prawn, it was so fresh and the tastiest starter I’ve had in a long time.
I followed with grilled halibut with crab claws and asparagus while the others decided on honey glazed crisped duckling with orange sauce; this was a huge serving and really well cooked, while lastly we all tasted the baked lemon sole fillets with creamed leeks, Serrano ham and a herb crust – a great recommendation from our friendly waitress.
When it came to dessert there was a choice of chocolate gateaux with warm chocolate sauce; our daughters favourite so she didn’t need to read any further. There was also a selection of ice cream, rhubarb & strawberry crumble (which I enjoyed), homemade apple pie, toffee & vanilla cheesecake or a selection of Irish cheeses.
Don’t come to The Sandhouse Hotel if you’re expecting ordinary hotel food; this is somewhere totally exceptional, great food served by fantastic, local girls for whom nothing is too much trouble. We spent the entire evening after dinner at our table, enjoying the great views and the beautiful sunset on the horizon. Paul Diver has invested more than just money here and it shows. The Sandhouse has soul in buckets, well worth a visit.