The Purple Onion is Paul Dempsey and Pauline Roe’s roadside pub in the blink-and- you’ll-miss-itvillage ofTarmonbarry on the Longford/Roscommon border. Tarmonbarry is on the main road west; keep going and you’ll end up inWestport, and gets a lot of passing traffic, and consequently visitors.
The Purple Onion has an old world feel, with dark wooden panelling, tucked away tables and a traditional bar which centres the room. There are interesting Celtic patterns painted on the ceiling and it’s a busy place at most times of the day. Interestingly, it doubles as an art gallery, so good original paintings add interest and charm.
The menu here is a mixture of good old fashioned cooking, and more adventurous dishes that raise the bar on the menu beyond just good, and into the area of memorable and interesting.
The evening A la Carte is the main event, and some starters that catch the eye include the slow roast rare breed pork belly very in a covered bowl that releases wood chip smoke when opened, or the pot of seafood that is made for home made bread, while St. Tolas goat cheese if set off with a vodka jelly.
Main courses continue the impressive array and roast hake with barley risotto and smoked eel should do it for the seafood lovers, while carnivores are well catered for with Donald Russell’s excellent beef is grilled and served with a black pudding rock cake and red onion marmalade and local Roscommon lamb is slow roasted and served with forest mushrooms and Smithwicks gravy.
Our last visit was for Sunday lunch, which is a more prosaic offering, but St. Tola’s goat’s cheese with fresh leaves gets us off to a great start, and is followed by some great roast beef. Two shared desserts of home made apple tart - more French than Irish – and a sinful chocolate cake finish off an excellent lunch on the banks of theShannon.
A trip upstairs to the art gallery with Paul and we are soon on the road to Glasson. The Purple Onion really is very good indeed. Friendly, comfortable and serving above par food, there’s nothing here not to like.