The Venue is a bar and restaurant in surfing Mecca, Strandhill in Co. Sligo. The Venue is at the top of the hill, reached by turning left on entering the tow. The premises are very pretty, painted white with red windows. On entering you find yourself in a traditional bar and walking through leads to the more modern main dining room, that ends in a conservatory proving spectacular views of the village below and the Atlantic beyond.
The menu offers a good range of steaks, fajitas and pastas, but the main event here is the seafood, locally sourced and from the great ocean outside the window. Starters include seafood chowder, fresh crab claws, traditional prawn salad with Marie Rose sauce and local Lissadel mussels in white wine and cream, served with crusty bread.
Main courses offer a selection of steaks, including a t-bone, duck breast, a couple of burgers and some pasta dishes. Then it’s back to seafood with lobster salad, grilled lobster, fresh whole seabass, a selection of seafood Mornay and a fresh battered cod and chips.
The lobster here is from nearby Mullaghmore, and lobster is good in this part of the country, so I order the crab claws, a recommendation from owner Yvonne and the half lobster salad. The claws are enormous and swimming in garlic butter. They are very soft and juicy with plenty of meat on the shell, and are undoubtedly the best I have had. I don’t know what they are doing to their crabs up here, but its working.
On with the crustacean feast with the lobster which comes on a nicely dressed salad and an onion vinaigrette. The lobster comes in its shell, but the meat has been removed and replaced, to make it easier to eat. It’s hard to go wrong with lobster, and this is no exception, it’s really very good indeed.
Since I have a journey to Westport ahead, there is no drinking, just some sparkling water, but the wine list here is very much a labour of love, and there are some very good bottles at extremely reasonable mark-ups. In fact the Saint Emillion Grand Cru at €33 is a give away.
The Venue is everything a good gastro pub should be. Honest, carefully sourced food prepared simply and served well. Good prices and a great wine list are just the icing on the cake.