The Friary Restaurant is part of O’Connor’s bar in the centre of Tulsk village in Co. Roscommon. Tulsk is on the road from Longford to Westport and is about five miles to the west of Strokestown. They serve honest, home made food in this family run business.
The road from Dublin had been solid fog all the way, and only lifted when I was about three miles from Tulsk. When we stopped I had to take my companion Rafa for a walk. Rafa is a minature Yorkshire terrier, and while I bring him everywhere, restaurants are a bit of a stretch for him, so we parked outside the Friary and went for a walk into the park they have next door.
There is a fast running stream, and a flock of sheep were keeping themselves out of harms way on the other side, while two donkeys were fascinated by the tiny dog. Last year the Friary organised a family day, and there are plans to have a music festival here in the summer, and so after a few circuits, it was into the restaurant for me, and for a snooze in the car for Rafa.
Inside the welcome was warm, and I was soon seated at the back of the dining room. There was a large mural behind me of two monks breaking bread, while on the opposite wall a library had been painted on a chimney breast. The brushstrokes were very good, and they are the work of the niece of the owner Eugene O Connor, who came over to introduce himself and explain the provenance of the paintings.
Now with a bottle of water and some homemade brown bread I settled down to the menu. Sunday lunch offers a range of classics including a soup, Caesar salad, egg mayonnaise, home made duck spring roll or deep fried Irish Brie.
Main courses continue in this vein and offer a choice of steaks, salmon, roast shoulder of lamb or a rack, a burger, roast turkey and ham or a roast beef lunch. I find out the duck spring roll is home made, and so I start with that. What I get is a fat roll stuffed with juicy duck meat with a side salad and a sweet chilli dip. It was very good, and set me up for the rack of lamb to follow.
Three sliced chops from the rack were standing upright on a bed of creamy mash, while on the side cubed carrot and turnip still had a bite, and a lamb gravy came in a little jug, along with a dollop of mint sauce. The lamb was tender and full of flavour, and I demolished the lot before indulging in a small sherry trifle.
As I enjoyed the dessert I got talking to Eugene again, and he told me that they grow or raise all the produce and animal themselves. Outside a poly tunnel grows all the herbs, mushrooms, lettuces and tomatoes. The potatoes are grown down the road on a small farm, and we hopped in the land rover with Rafa and went down the road to see the pigs, along with a flock of hens and geese who have a poolside playground and a henhouse to sleep in.
I liked The Friary a lot, this is the definition of farm to fork. Eugene and the family have all pitched in to create a self sufficient business, and it's well worth a stop off on the way to or from the west. I can still see the geese giving out to the chickens, while the ducks slipped into the pond. This is free range at it’s comfort food best; well worth stopping for.
** The Friary Farm' grows the freshest veg and raises some seriously happy chickens to make sure your daily feed in 'The Friary' is the best and freshest it possibly could be.
The Friary at O'Connors bar, Tulsk Roscommon