Mount Falcon Estate, once a beautiful family home which dates back to 1876, and now a luxury hotel full of the original period features is situated on 100 acres of woodland.
It’s on the road that runs between Foxford and Ballina in Co Mayo on the banks of the River Moy. Approached up a long drive through the woods, you pass the lodges and herb garden and suddenly across the lawn this beautiful country house appears, romantic and wonderful in its isolation.
The property has been sympathetically extended between 2002 and 2006 by the Maloney brothers. Alan Maloney is owner/manager and your host in this boutique hotel with only 26 rooms and 48 lodges, a mix between fully serviced and self-catering.
The house was originally created from the love of one young man for his new bride – Miss Nina Knox-Gore of Belleek Manor. He thought her so special that she deserved to live in a castle and went about employing the finest architect of that time, James Franklin Fuller - responsible for Ashford Castle, Kylemore Abbey and Farmleigh House - to construct a palatial home at Mount Falcon, an estate on 2,200 acres on the west bank of the River Moy.
Between 1932 and the present day it has been run as guest accommodation, firstly by the Aldridge family - Connie was best known as founder of the Blue Book - and right up to the present day and now under the new owners, the Maloney family, who come from the area. They have restored the main house to its former glory, and down the years it has hosted many well known guests from Peter Sellers to Jack Lynch and more recently Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo.
Dinner is served every evening in The Kitchen restaurant which is set in the original kitchen and pantry of this grand house, a room divided into two quite distinctive spaces. With high raised ceilings, exposed brick and many of the original features you really get a sense of space and although the atmosphere is relaxed and casual, the experience is special.
The head chef here now is Tom Doyle who boasts a pedigree including working in Michelin Starred L’Ecrivain. The menu is now a pared back three course Table d@Hote offering at €62 with a 4/5/4 format – that’s four starters, five mains and four desserts, so there’s plenty of choice but the kitchen can control the output and ensure each dish is perfect. The dishes are seasonal and Tom works closely with head gardener Paul so the micro herbs, leaves and vegetables come from the garden where possible.
Starters include cured salmon with fennel, blood orange, honey & tarragon or, goats cheese tart with caramelized onion, pinenut and truffle dressing. I couldn’t resist the seared scallops, 3 succulent scallops served in the shell with a cep sauce, the flavor of this magnificent mushroom was gentle and allowed the flavor of the scallop to dominate. Fred and Keisha had the parmesan risotto, served with a chive and herb oil, it was perfectly delicious and totally right for the season, warm and comforting, a hug of a dish.
Main courses offered wild halibut with celeriac, puree and mussels or Silverhill duck, parsnip puree, kale and a duck jus. There was also a 30oz rib eye steak for two (€70) but I find it hard to pass game in season and so I had the Wicklow venison with baby beetroot, blackberry and game sauce – the baby beets were infused with the blackberry to give the most distinct, sweet flavor that worked so well with the venison, cooked medium just the way I had asked.
Keisha and Fred kept it meaty, and had the Irish beef fillet, served with leeks, morels and a beef jus, cooked medium to rare, perfectly pink and juicy and the perfect piece of beef.
Desserts tempted us and won and we went our separate ways with fred plumping for the selection of irish cheeses with chutney and crackers. Keisha couldn’t resist the vanilla pannacotta with rhubarb, honeycomb and pistachio while I had the crème caramel with raisins and a delicate milk sorbet.
Dinner here is a real treat and couple that with an elegant house, comfy rooms, lovely, friendly staff and a delicious breakfast and there really isn’t anything missing. A fabulous destination.
**I would also suggest, weather permitting, a stroll down to the garden to visit head gardener Paul, as this where all the vegetables, salads, herbs and edible flowers that you see on your plate originate from. Highly recommended.