Radisson Blu Farnham Estate is in the heart of the countryside, and yet still only minutes away from Cavan Town. After a long winding drive through the golf course and acres of woodland, you come to the main hotel where valet parking is just a small sign of how pampered you can be in this luxurious retreat
The reception is a huge glass atrium, which has been tastefully attached to the main house, which dates back to 1810. Inside the hotel is a mixture of the old and the new, blended together to provide the best of each, with eclectic pieces complementing original features in a delightful way.
The Botanica Restaurant is aptly named, with foliage and plants carefully placed throughout you certainly have the feeling of an almost living space. It has recently refurbished, and with some subtle changes including more intimate lighting and beautiful new curtains they have created a special feeling of being in an eloquent restaurant as opposed to a hotel dining room.
Large picture windows to one side allow you to look out on perfectly manicured lawns and lush woodland, while to the other side is a small courtyard which continues the garden theme. Cream leather chairs and dark wooden floors are the perfect contrast and give a contemporary feel to the room. There are couches along the walls with scattered cushions, which are very comfortable. To the rear is the Lemon Tree room, which is usually used for overflow, but it is also the perfect area for a private party.
The wine list ranged from €24 for the house wines up to €45 for a Sancerre or Chablis, while the reds feature two very good NZ Pinot Noir’s at €35. There is a good selection available by the glass, and also a small selection of half bottles all priced around the €17 mark. I enjoyed the Swallows' Tale Chenin Blanc from South Africa priced at €25 while my husband went with the Pierre et Remy Gauthier Merlot for €24.50, a reasonable price given our luxurious setting.
The set dinner menu offers exceptional value at €40 for three courses or two courses for €32, which includes tea or coffee. Dinner is a very grown up affair and it’s reflected in the choices on the menu which include quail, saddle of rabbit or a seafood plate for starters.
I started with the seared scallops; four large scallops served with honey mustard glazed ham hock and a cauliflower puree. This dish was perfectly prepared and light enough to be the perfect start to any meal. The ham hock complemented the scallops with its salty taste, while cutting through the creamy puree. My husband had the 20-hour braised McCarren pork belly & black pudding, which was accompanied with apple puree, caramelised apple and dried apple with cider sauce. Fred is a black pudding fan anyway, and this dish was a carefully crafted showcase for locally produced pork from the green fields of Cavan.
Main courses included Silver Hill duck breast, char grilled beef fillet or roast lemon sole, while the special was baked salmon and pan fried halibut. This time we had the baked hake which was fresh and delicate, and cooked perfectly. Our other choice, the spring lamb, was perfectly pink in colour, packed with flavour and again locally sourced. The lamb was served on pressed potato, with basil foam and rosemary jus. The basil was a welcome addition and I have been looking forward to trying the combination since seeing it in a recipe a few weeks back. The combination of the basil and rosemary jus lifted the dish above the norm.
Dessert defeated us and we finished with two coffees and decided what to do next. After dinner there are many areas to retreat to including a selection of drawing rooms off the main reception which are perfect for a chat, or the Botanica bar, which is on the raised level outside of the restaurant.
For something livelier you have The Wine Goose Cellar Bar, which as its' name suggests is beneath the main hotel. Farnham packs a lot of punch; good food, beautiful surroundings, lakeside walks and a bit of pampering.
I sometimes thinks Cavan gets overlooked, but with the beautiful lakes and scenery, it holds its' own with many of the more famous Irish destinations. Farnham Estate is a beautiful spot to discover this part of the country.