The Conyngham Arms Restaurant and Hotel is in the historic village of Slane, about 35 minutes from Dublin. The Conyngham Arms is a beautifully restored 18th century coaching inn, and sits on the roadside in the heart of the village.
Over the past year I have had two of the best meals in the same place; The Brabazon restaurant in Tankardstown house where Chef Robbie Krawczyk has transformed the dining experience into something very special indeed. I say twice, because after I had eaten there with Deirdre Walsh, I had to go back again a few weeks later with Paolo in tow, on one of those rare ‘seriously you have to try this’ trips that happen quite seldom.
Conyngham Arms is the little brother, or sister, of Tankardstown, and chef Killian O’Donohue has made it his own over the last year or so. Owner Trish Conroy has a keen eye, and the decor here is very pleasing. The dining room is pained a lighter shade of duck egg blue, and cream carpet and comfortable chairs, not to mention an open terrace and garden to the rear are a wonderful amenity on a warm May day.
The restaurant is open daily, and has a very strong coffee and scone trade during the day, while lunch is busy and the evening diners are a mix of locals, visitors and people staying over for weddings, either in the Conyngham Arms itself, of in nearby Tankardstown.
We dropped in for dinner last year, but it was in the depths of winter, and in the sunshine I was struck by how pretty the town of Slane is, with its long bridge and numerous stone buildings, it is reminiscent of the type of English village where Miss Marple or Hercule Poiret would investigate a murder.
Sunday lunch offers two courses for €18 or three for €24, which is very good value for food of this quality. Starters include salmon fish cakes, traditional Caesar salad sticky ribs and a homemade pate. Main courses included steak, turkey, fish and chips, and specials on the blackboard which included a a slow cooked lamb shank, which caught my eye.
Deirdre started with the salmon and sweet onion fishcake, one generous round of fishy softness encased in a crispy coat of golden breadcrumbs. It sat in a bed of dressed leaves and was the right combination of fishy flavour and soft potato. It was also very generous, and it struck me that it would make a nice light lunch in its own right. I picked the duck liver parfait, which was very well made and had a great flavour. Smooth and creamy it was the right side of light, and I enjoyed it a lot.
Main courses saw us both go quite traditional; Deirdre couldn’t resist the raost turkey crown, with mash and gravy. Turkey is a dish that we only traditionally eat at Christmas, but it is one she really likes, so a Sunday lunch treat was too tempting to pass. The plate was cleared and she was more than happy.
I had the special of lamb shank which fell off the bone and came with its own homemade gravy that had a hint of star anise, which was brilliant. Lamb shank is not a showy dish; it’s not cheffy or posh, but for a traditional Sunday lunch is spot on.
We finished with a shared plate of prifiteroles which put the finishing touch to our blow out Sunday lunch.. I finished with a coffee, which was perfect, and they explained that they make all their coffees on a Nespresso machine. Indeed I had a look at it and it is the biggest Nespresso I have seen; I imagine this one came with a free George Clooney!
Afterwards we went for a walk around the town with our little dog Rafa. He isn’t allowed in the dining room, but the Conyngham Arms is dog friendly for stay overs. They have the whole gastro pub experience down pat; the food is way above any usual standard, the surroundings are lovely and service is friendly and excellent.
**The Conyngham Arms is well worth a visit, and with very comfortable rooms, it is both a stop off or a lovely stop over.