Charleville Restaurant is the award winning restaurant in the Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore. The hotel itself is situated in the centre of the town, and makes an imposing sight when you turn onto Bridge Street to see this fabulous four star hotel taking over the entire street. It lloks to be a modern build, but its history with the town goes back 50 years.
The Charleville restaurant is another surprise; while throughout the hotel everything is contemporary and bright, from the brass railings on the sweeping staircase to the largest chandeliers on the first floor balcony. Stepping into the restaurant is a sure step back in time, a reminder of the clubbier feel of some of the best hotel dining rooms. The space is divided into several areas with a conservatory style room to the top right of the restaurant, while the main dining area is also home to the kitchens and a bar area.
I loved the feature brick walls which gave a real old fashioned feel. The atmosphere was electric, all we could hear were the sounds of people chatting and enjoying themselves, with no background music which was a welcome change. There was a total mix of people; large groups, families and couples all having a good time. The staff were very friendly and full of chat; telling us all the local history and making us feel very welcome.
Daily specials were brought to our attention on a large blackboard over the bar; a 10oz rib eye for €19.95, pan fried sea bass at €24.95 and roast rack of lamb for €22.95. The menu itself was well laid out and not too hectic, I hate a menu trying to be something to everyone and all that happens is you end up confused and disappointed. The choice of starters ranged in price from €5.30 for soup of the day to €9.55 for confit of Irish duck and plenty in between including classic favourites like prawn cocktail or an Ardsallagh goats cheese crostini.
The mains were divided into categories of steaks, chicken & poultry, fish and vegetarian options. The steaks, my husband’s favourite section of any menu offered a choice of all cuts from sirloin, fillet, t-bone with a choice of sauces, with prices between €22 and €27. Also making an appearance was chateaubriand for two priced at €47.95.
Chicken & poultry had a couple of usual suspects; chicken curry and a house roast as well as the Bridge House special which was chicken fillet stuffed with potato, mushrooms and spinach and wrapped in bacon. Prices were from €13 to €24 for crispy Irish duck. I always love my fish and chose the medley of seafood for €24; you could also have selected a fillet of salmon or fillet of turbot and prawns.
The wine list was extensive but with a good choice ranging from €20.50 for the house wines - a selection of the Puna Snipe from the central valley of Chile which were also available by the glass at €5.90 - to €34.50 for the French Fleurie. We chose a bottle of the South African Swallow’s Tale Sauvignon Blanc, a nice tropical flavor which went well with all of our dishes, though Fred had a glass of red with his main course.
I chose the asparagus fritters, which were full stalks of asparagus in a light tempura batter while my husband opted for the Silver Hill duck terrine served with home made fruit chutney. Both were delicious and very well presented, and I think the duck shaded it in the starter stakes.
One thing became very apparent when our mains arrived, a big appetite is required as the portions were definitely larger than average. The mains were all served on slate sitting on board; the Tournedos Rossini, which is the fillet, wrapped in streaky bacon and topped with foie gras, was served with a Madeira jus and was accompanied with large onion rings and sweet potato shavings. My medley of seafood was generous; all the fresh fish of the day was here with monkfish, turbot, hake and even a little bit of smoked haddock making an appearance. There was also a boat of mixed veg and a choice of boiled or garlic potatoes. We were two happy bunnies after this feast and some time out was required before even thinking of desserts.
Choices ranged from Bailey’s cheesecake to apple pie or a chocolate & raspberry mousse. I ordered the chewy meringue which came with ice cream and berry compote while himself opted for the pistachio & rich chocolate parfait which came with a meringue swirl. Both were absolutely delicious and again no exception to the rule at Charleville, both extra generous servings, in all honesty we could have shared one.
Next time you find yourself anywhere near Tullamore, make the diversion and visit the Charleville Restaurant at the Bridgehouse Hotel; it’s a real treat.