Connemara Lake Hotel is situated in the centre of Oughterard, the ‘gateway to Connemara’. It's a prominent white building on the right that can’t be missed as you drive through the village. Only 26kms from Galway it is the perfect base for exploring the west. It was recently reopened by Ted & Annette O Sullivan who have over thirty year experience in the hospitality industry.
The restaurant is open all day serving simple, seasonal dishes, and food is also served in Maguires Bar. The long bar is flanked by a welcoming large wood burning stove and the open room has a selection of seating options for groups both large and small. There is a nautical theme to some of the decoration and the natural timber is very apt for the area.
The wine list is concise and well chosen with a choice of nine whites and eleven reds plus a selection of recommended wines displayed on the black board. Prices range between €21 for a Monty’s Hill Chardonnay or Shiraz and €57 for a Sancerre Le Comte de Charmes or a Bordeaux Chateaux Mac Carthy 2011. There is also a selection available by the glass at €5.50 and some champagnes and sparkling wines for that special occasion. We decided on a bottle of Vionte Albarinho from Rias Bias priced at €30.
With warm Guinness bread and soft butter plus a pre-dinner drink of vodka and slim line we began to work our way through the menu. There’s an early bird menu available daily from 5-7pm offering 2-courses for €17 and 3-courses for €19.90 plus an A la Carte, which is what we ate off.
There were a choice of eight starters starting at €4.50 for the homemade soup of the day, to €12.50 for a prawn cocktail, and other options were seafood chowder, spicy chicken wings or a rustic chicken liver pate. I had the crab claws & garlic butter; a generous helping well cooked and full of flavour. My husband had the bubbling hot Mayo home smokies; smoked haddock served in a cream, garlic & tomato sauce topped with chive and butter crumbs and served with brown soda bread. This was a very wholesome dish for a cold November evening and was served in a cast iron pot, while our daughter had the homemade vegetable soup, another ‘comfort food’ choice for a winter’s evening.
For mains there was a couple of cold platters which are ideal for a summer evening, but we passed straight into a choice of seven mains starting at €13 for a vegetarian option of spiced chickpea & sweet potato curry served with rice to €22 for the 12oz chargrilled sirloin. Also listed were some of the usual suspects like a homemade beef burger, fish of the day with fries or a pan fried fillet of salmon with hollandaise sauce and mash.
I had the Galway Bay fish pie which was a dish full of fresh fish including cod, salmon & prawns in a creamy sauce and topped with breadcrumbs. Fred decided to have the slow cooked lamb shank which fell of the bone and was served with red wine jus while Keisha had the sirloin with pepper sauce, home fries and coleslaw. All the dishes were good, well made and honest. This isn’t fine dining, it’s good home cooked food.
There was a selection of five desserts all priced around the €5 mark except the selection of farmhouse Irish cheeses for €12. There was apple & mixed nut crumble, warm chocolate brownie or a homemade Glenowen Farm ice cream bowl. We all shared the fluffy meringue which came with warm berry compote & cream, which was big enough for us all to have a little sweetness.
Connemara Lake Hotel is new and still finding its feet. Oughterard is a pretty little village and a great stopping off point into Connemara. Look out for them next time you’re down West.