The Abbott Steakhouse is located in the Abbey Court Hotel on the Dublin Road as you enter the historic town of Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. The hotel opened it’s doors fifteen years ago, and after joining the Great National brand four years ago it has grown from strength to strength under the watchful eye of general manager Matt Muller at front of house and with chef David Outan their food offering raises the bar for hotel restaurants.
The restaurant is an old style dining room which is broken into two, the main room and the library, which makes the perfect spot for private dining and which is full of character and charm. With panelled ceilings and exposed beams, a stone feature wall to the left it is a bright, warm space. The subtle lighting and formally set tables create an intimate setting with the atmosphere relaxed and welcoming.
Since our last visit a year ago there have been huge transformations to the dining offerings at the hotel, the bravest but in my opinion the best is that they have done away with the daily carvery which had become something of an institution locally. It has been replaced with three very appetising menus; a bar food menu which is served daily, their Good Mood Food menus which is served on Sunday’s and an afternoon tea with three delightful offerings priced between €10.95 and €29.95 per person depending on how posh you are looking to go.
The afternoon we arrived we did lunch off the bar menu and were pleasantly surprised. I ordered the Cajun chicken wrap; a tomato wrap filled with marinated chicken, peppers, mushrooms, onions and spicy jalapenos with a delicious Cajun dressing which came with a portion of hand cut chips and salad and priced at only €9.95 it was great value. My husband went with the pan seared salmon with Thai red curry. I had to try a bit and it really did work served with a bowl of savoury rice. There were all kinds of choices from starters, salads, sandwiches & wraps of which you could also make your own.
The following evening we had dinner at Abbot’s, and this I was really looking forward to. As we started to browse the menus a selection of breads were brought to the table with a jug of iced water. We had a choice between a fixed price menu which offers four courses for €30, or the A al Acrte.
The wine list was short and well presented over one page which made it very easy to read. There’s a choice of nine whites and nine reds starting at €20 for a Chilean Terranoble up to €56 for the Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Domaine Lafond. There was also a choice of wines by the glass for €5, but we ordered a bottle of Sancerre Daniel Crochet, a delightfully soft and fragrant choice
We worked from the a la carte menu with a choice of eleven starters from €5.00 for the soup of the day to €16.95 for seared duck foie gras. There were also dishes like salt & chilli calamari or Five Mile Town goat’s cheese. On David’s recommendation I enjoyed the seared duck foie gras which was served with toasted brioche and a fig chutney while Fred ordered the sticky duck wings. Both dishes were well made, however mine definitely won over, it was delicious but not too strong and the contrast of tastes between the sherry reduction and the ginger breadcrumbs really worked.
A mango sorbet was served prior to mains which was refreshingly welcome, and set us up for the main event. Main courses are broken into light bites & salads; steaks & grills; fish & seafood and other mains. Prices range from €9.00 for a Caesar salad to €28.95 for an 8oz fillet steak.
Worth a mention are some of the smoked dishes that have made an appearance as a result of David’s latest investment; a smoker or a slow cooking oven. It has revolutionised the way the team are cooking. In a world where everything needs to be faster they have opted for the slow approach, and some of the beef dishes are cooked for eighteen hours, and the results are delicious. Try the house smoked baby back ribs or cracked black pepper smoked duck, for some smoky flavours that will stay with you for a long time.
Fred ordered the cracked black pepper smoked duck & wild mushroom pasta which he thoroughly enjoyed, displayed by the fact that he cleared the plate. The flavour of the cherry wood smoke mixed with the white port was so rich, it made this an exceptional pasta dish which has to be tried when visiting.
I chose the char grilled tuna with the chimichurri, a tomato, sweet red pepper and fresh herb sauce which was served with savoury rice and a side of choice. The tuna was cooked perfctly pink and the south American staple salsa was a perfect foil.
Desserts were mouth-wateringly tempting, and priced at only €5.95 it would have been rude not to try one. There was a sticky toffee pudding, apple or snickers pie, but we ended up sharing the Ferrero Rocher cheesecake, which was smooth and full of chocolaty flavour.
The team are dedicated to ensuring all foods served are not only traceable but also as locally sourced as possible. Seafood comes from Rosslare, and they also deal with some small artisan producers whom I feel are worth a mention including Knockatee Farm who are responsible for the slab of Kerry Blue cheese melted on your steak and Boulabane Farms of Roscrea who supply bespoke ice creams and sorbets.
We would recommend Abbott Steakhouse, its honest food with some surprising twists served in a lively setting never disappoints.