Hotel Minella located on the banks of the River Suir on the outskirts of Clonmel is a former Quaker mansion dating back to the mid 1800’s. In 1961 it was purchased by the Nallen family and opened as a hotel 2 years later. It's till run by the family, and now brother and sister Tom & Liz are very much front of house and there to welcome all their guests on arrival with a great hospitality team working with them.
Today the hotel is on a lavish scale with 102 bedroom/apartments, very large function rooms, leisure facilities, a restaurant and bar,all surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and panoramic views of both the Suir and the Comeragh Mountains. Horses are also a big part of the Nallen history and is very apparent in the décor; any time you are at the races and a horse has Minella in his name you can be sure it is part of the Nallen family stable.
The restaurant is located in the basement, a typical old world hotel dining with pink feature walls, crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, an old marble fireplace at the end of the room and plenty of equine memorabilia dotted around the room as a focal point of conversation.
The dinner menu is a 3 course set affair for €35 per person and includes deep fried wedge of brie, feta & cherry salad or a cream & leek potato soup to mention a few of the five starters followed by eight mains where you could choose from goats cheese wellington as the vegetarian option or a roast rack of lamb, grilled sirloin of steak lyonnaise all served with vegetables and potatoes or salad.
The wine list was comprehensive with the house wine being Terra Noble in a sauvignon blanc or cabernet sauvignon for €22. As you venture through the list you will see it runs from around the €25 point for the Muscadet de Sevre et Main Sur Lie 2011 to €45 for the La Bernadine Rouge 2010. We chose the house white which was nice and fresh with hints of citrus flavour.
To start I had the smoked mackerel salad, a fillet of mackerel served on a bed of salad leaves with horseradish sauce and lemon while my husband had the cream of leek & potato soup served with warm bread rolls and brown bread.
I followed with the baked fillet of sea bass and asked for the herb butter on the side. A large fresh fillet was presented, perfectly cooked and accompanied with cauliflower cheese, carrots and roast potatoes which we both shared. Fred went with the lamb served on a bed of stuffing, with red wine jus, and we shared tastes with each other, both enjoying the contrasting textures and flavours.
Dessert for me was definitely the highlight of the evening. Clara appeared full of personality and a trolley which must have been six foot high! She proceeded to talk us through all the desserts shelf by shelf, starting from the top with apple pie and individual sherry trifles and onto the chocolate gateaux, banoffi pie moving down to the strawberries and cream and Baileys & Toblerone cheese cake.
We were encouraged to try them all, but certainly to mix and match a bit, and all were homemade by in-house pastry chef Istvan, who is known to his colleagues as Steven. I had the Baileys and Toblerone cheesecake with strawberries and cream on the side, and the strawberries were from Trass Apple Farm in Cahir and tasted like summer on the tongue. Fred had the banoffi and sherry trifle, and while they all were great, the cheesecake stole the show.
We brought coffees up to the bar to finish the evening. Food is also served in the bar daily where you can order anything from sandwiches and paninis to a full 8oz sirloin steak and you will be glad to hear all the same desserts as I just mentioned from the dining room. The bar is very popular with locals and is normally quite busy.
What I liked about Minella is local sourcing, knowledgable staff who tell you the origin of everything, from the breads coming from Hickeys bakery in the town to the beef coming in from their own farm at Lavally, and the ice cream from Boulban Farm in Roscrea. Well worth a visit.