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. A romantic get away with a loved one, a gourmet escape or for fun with family and friends, Mount Falcon is the perfect answer. 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, also 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. In charge is Maura who oversees everything and has been part of the house for many years; and who can relate old tales dating back to Mrs Aldridge. 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.
Mount Falcon have a fine selection of wines spanning over twenty pages, they also have an excellent restaurant manager Nino, who has an extensive knowledge of every wine on the list. I chose the DoMaine Peras Sauvignon Blanc which was available by the glass at €6.50 or €25 for the bottle, exceptional value, given the setting.
The Table D’Hote Menu is a 5 course affair priced at €59.00. Beginning with a pre-starter of the evening you then have a choice of 5 starters from a minestrone soup to aromatic quail or a parmesan polenta. Main courses have an 8oz fillet steak and several choices from the sea including monkfish, poached black sole or pork belly & scallops before you move into dessert territory.
We decided to go with the tasting menu, excited to see what head chef Daniel Willimount has brought to the table since joining the team in 2015. With exceptional experience of working in some of the top hotels and Michelin restaurants across the world this was destined to be great
A selection of warm breads; tomato, celery & white were brought to the table with soft butter or seaweed butter, dangerous breads, designed by the devil to tempt even the most abstemious, we had to force ourselves to stop eating them as we knew there were at least ten dishes to follow. An amuse bouche of smoked salmon and cucumber mousse served in an egg shell started the evening off. Delicate and light it was perfect
First dish to arrive was minestrone soup which was presented in a small glass jug, with pork & cider jelly on the side of the dish and edible flowers which become a feature as we move on. It was suggested by Julienne (Nino’s son who joined the team from France last year) that we allow the jelly t melt into the soup and he was very correct as the flavour was superb
Polenta doughnuts were next on the menu, served with kale and hazelnuts, a great tip is to experience all the flavours together as they all compliment each other so well, exquisite
The aromatic quail was then served, with tajine textures that were certainly different but really worked and with the sweetness of the sweet potato and the sour of the lime puree, it is a dish you want to savour
A cassis, elderflower and apple cobbler topped with sparkling water was then presented, a very refreshing surprise to prepare us for the mains that were to follow
Kiltimagh Venison, two beautifully prepared slices served on a bed of squash with truffle and walnuts. Keisha was given a fabulous prawn dumpling not being a red meat eater, the team were more than obliging to ensure we both had the best experience
Rack of Lamb supplied by local butchers ‘Quinns’ was cooked pink to perfection and presented with carrot, purple potato and herb sponge
Sous Vide Trout with cucumber & elderberry, beetroot and a micro salad was a welcome dish, lovely and light after the richness of the meats
Then onto Brill fillet with pea green, egg and drizzled with a black garlic and smoked lard, it is at this stage you know you shouldn’t have been as indulgent with the breads
We now came to the final stage and a fabulous baked camembert with homemade crackers was brought to the table. We shared this as it was a monster serving, something at any other time I would never have shared but it was heavy. I was hoping chef understood when he received some of it back, however we had cleared all other plates which was a great sign that the food was fabulous
The apple with Nepal pepper foam was one of my favourites as it was refreshing and light, it was presented like a pannacotta topped with a jelly and foam served in a round glass on a bed of meringue, all the textures and flavours really worked
It is true when they say the best was saved to last, and I challenge anybody not to find a dessert pocket, even after ten courses for the chocolate soufflé with salt liquorice ice cream, all I could think was OMG!
Mount Falcon offers an experience that is so special, I would highly recommend a couple of days to unwind and recharge, whether it’s walks on the grounds, fishing or a day at the spa in the pool it is all there, the old and the new tastefully blended.
I would also suggest, weather permitting, a stroll down to the garden to visit head gardener Alex Lavarde and his team which is where all the vegetables, salads, herbs and edible flowers that you see on your plate originate from. Highly recommended.