Dromoland Castle is one of Ireland’s finest 5-Star resorts and is only two hours from Dublin, situated just outside the town of Newmarket on Fergus in Co Clare.
As you pass through the stately gates of Dromoland you will be blown away by the lush parklands, the perfectly manicured golf course, the shimmer of the lakes and of course the castle as it emerges in all its grandeur.
Last year saw Dromoland complete a €20 million refurbishment which say all areas of the property upgraded, and brought up to the highest standards. Architects, designers and owners worked together to cleverly and sympathetically upgrade and improve the facilities, being mindful of the history of this beautiful and historic buildings and its 330 acre estate.
After enjoying our beautiful room, we were looking forward to a splendid meal. We did drinks in the cocktail bar, a vodka & champagne cocktail for me, non-alcoholic for Keisha and a pint for himself. We enjoyed splendid views over the lake and admired the beauty of the room and it was here they brought us the menus to peruse before going to our table.
Executive Head Chef David Mc Cann has created a classic yet simple menu all based on locally sourced ingredients; farmhouse cheeses, game from the estate, Irish beef and lamb from local farmers and fresh fish from the west coast. There are also some multi-cultural influences and embracing new food trends, so there are flourishes that sounded interesting.
The Earl of Thomond Restaurant is a fine dining room with high ceilings and splendid chandeliers, wall sized mirrors and heavy drapes. Many of the original features including oak paneling, coving and marble fireplaces are of course in situ, while walls have been recovered with antique velour. There is a dress policy of jackets for the gentlemen, and it is lovely to have an excuse to dress for dinner.
There is a choice of an eight course tasting menu priced at €85, or €130 with wine pairing, the a la carte menu offers five courses for €75, and all courses are also separately priced if you wish eat less. In the interests of research I decided on the tasting menu whilst Keisha and Fred went with the a la carte.
Reading over an extensive list of carefully selected wines and not being able to agree on a red/white option we went with a Chianti (Classico Isole e Olena, Toscana) for the red and an Albarino (Pazo De San Mauro Marques De Vargas full of character and aroma, it is one of my favourites) for the white. Prices started mid-forties and went anywhere up to €3,800 for a bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild from the Old Vintage Cellar, but we’ll have to come back for that one!
Amuse bouche was a delicate, beautifully presented Burren smoked mackerel with compressed apple & celeriac for myself while the chef sent out tuna with caviar for the guys. Both really did the whole wake up the taste buds things, and we were off in some style.
First course on the tasting menu was roast quail served with mango & mint salsa, the contrast of flavours and textures that really worked. You can really see the art of the chef as everything was attention to detail and a contrast of colours.
Fred started with the Silverhill duck confit wonton which he said was absolutely fabulous, a true compliment given his passion for anything that quacks. They then both had the spiced root vegetable soup as I was presented with a terrine of foie gras “paysanne’ which was presented with artichoke & pear and a truffle dressing, the contrast of sweet and sour was staggering.
Moving onto the third course of scallop & shrimp; scallop and a shrimp drizzled with a soy & mirin dressing followed by a bellini sorbet which nailed the whole fresh palate cleansing point.
As we all headed for mains I enjoyed the roast rack of Burren lamb absolutely cooked to perfection with local vegetables and a tarragon jus, this was beautifully done and the flavour of the lamb was devine.
Fred and Keisha enjoyed their choice of the grilled tournedos of Irish beef and ox cheek roulade which was served with spiced carrot puree, puy lentils & savoy cabbage with a claret sauce. I couldn’t even have a taste at this stage, but empty plates told a tale.
Sixth course on the tasting menu was Irish soda bread soufflé presented with raspberries and vanilla bean custard, this flew into first place as my favourite sweet dish of all time, it was so light and fluffy I had to fight off a boarding party from the other side of the table. It was like GOT in the castle!
A well chosen cheese board was shared and the others in the cheap seats both had the The Earl of Thomond Desert Plate which gave them a taste of several including red berry foam, raspberry eton mess, rich opera chocolate tart and mango & passion fruit parfait.
We finished with petits fours, a selection of sweet delicacies which were so good that in the real world you could easily skip dessert and be perfectly happy with them.
Dinner in the Earl of Thomond exceeded all expectations; embarking on the tasting menu I wasn’t sure I’d make it but the selection of dishes and portion sizes were perfect, and it really is a fabulous way to experience this restaurant and this chef in all it’s glory. Having said that the A la Acrte was very good, and offered classic dishes with enough bits of magic to lift them far from the ordinary.
We retired back to the cocktail bar for a Hennessy for himself and a Kahlua coffee for me and we enjoyed some live music
At Dromoland there are all the activities you’d expect from a 5-star resort including falconry, golf, relaxing at the spa or simply walking in the grounds; make sure you give time to enjoy and don’t miss the walled gardens
**Dromoland Castle is also within easy reach of the wonderful Wild Atlantic Way, the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren and all the delights that County Clare and County Limerick have to offer. Conveniently close to Shannon International Airport (gateway to the US and Europe), Dromoland Castle is the perfect place for your perfectly idyllic vacation.