Mary and Eamonn Gleeson’s eponymous Townhouse and Restaurant is to be found in the heart of Roscommon Town, over-looking the square. Their passion for food, local produce and warm welcome have made Gleeson’s a necessary stop on a visit to this part of the country. There are 19 bedrooms, all en suite and a coffee shop to boot. A farmers market is held weekly next door, all in all making this an excellent base for some local exploring. Paolo paid a visit recently with John Healy, his partner in crime from The Restaurant. Here is what he had to say.
The menu confirmed that Gleeson’s is trying hard. They’ve made a point of sourcing locally; the beef and vegetables that they are all locally produced and all artisan-ingredient producers are named. Things were looking up.
There’s a simple but decent wine list and it’s very well priced. The wines carry a small mark up and, since I was the only one drinking, I chose a glass of an Argentinean red called Lagrima, for €5. John started with a classic Caesar salad and I had the Leek-and-potato soup. John’s salad was exactly as described and John very happily ate it, saying it was very well made. My soup was well made and nicely flavoured, exactly the thing for an autumnal day.
For main courses, john chose the home-made beef burger and I went for one of the day’s specials: roast beef. John asked our waitress if he could have his burger rare. “You’re not au fait with new rules,” I told him. “Our food-fascist legislators have decided that you can’t have a rare burger and restaurants aren’t allowed to server them rare. It’s for your own good.” After a short discussion of this piece of food regulation, we decided that there are two words that legislators need to hear. One is ‘off’ and the other begins with ‘f’ – and that goes for my love of cheese made with unpasturised milk as well. Leave me and the foods I like alone; I’ll decide what’s for my own good.
Anyway, both of these main courses were well made and, despite being rather full, we had two desserts as well – an apple pie and a bread and butter pudding made with brioche, both good. Three coffees finished off our lunch.
What impressed me about Gleeson’s was that in a town and country where gastronomy is thin on the ground, they’re trying to bring a new understanding of food to the fore. It’s not slick and sophisticated, but it’s honest, genuine and definitely has its heart in the right place. It’s good value too – the bill for our three-course lunch for two came to a modest €53.80.