Castle Dargan is located in the village of Ballygawley, 8 minutes from Sligo city and tucked away in unspoiled countryside. It is surrounded by 170 acres of rolling hills, is home to a magnificent 18 hole golf course, has Ireland’s first destination medi-spa and the superb Hall Door Restaurant
Castle Dargan is a unique blend of old and new, the modern hotel is centered around the restored Edwardian stately home, allowing guests enjoy the luxury of the modern and the comfort of the many log fires. The Hall Door Restaurant is situated exactly where you’d imagine by the name, just to the rear of reception. Large floor to ceiling windows create a spacious, airy feeling and overlook the golf course created by Darren Clarke. With the grape coloured feature walls and crisp white linen cloths there is a formal feel to the restaurant, however the staff are friendly and inviting and it’s quite relaxed.
Chef Mark Wiggs has been with Castle Dargan for the past two years; originally from Manchester he worked on prestigious events like Wimbledon, the Paris air show and many world renowned golf tournaments. His vision for the Hall Door is to use the finest of fresh local produce to create a menu that combines imagination with attention to detail, offering something memorable.
While we were waiting for our dishes chef sent out an amuse Bouche of lemon sorbet with strawberry, a really refreshing palate cleanser. I started with the chicken & duck terrine which was served with Melba toast on a bed of mixed leaf salad, it was well made and more essentially, was not too cold; if I get another half frozen terrine I’ll scream. He thoroughly enjoyed the fresh seafood chowder; it was packed full of the freshest fish and not too creamy.
Main courses brought me the grilled fillets of haddock; two chunky fillets served on crushed new potatoes with a bed of wilted spinach and red grapes. This was the star of the show, the fish was cooked just so, and was full of honest, fishy flavour. This time he had the Irish fillet steak, this came with a chilli and scallion salsa and char grilled courgettes. The steak was locally sourced and again, perfectly cooked and the salsa added a nice kick. Both dishes were accompanied by a selection of vegetables, crunchy carrot and sugar snap peas, broccoli and cauliflower and new potatoes. The veg was nicely done, none of this boiled to death rubbish, and overall the main courses were excellent.
The wine list is well selected with house wines from €23.00 a bottle or €5.75 a glass for a Chilean sauvignon Blanc or cabernet sauvignon from Los Tilos or a French option of Pasquiers Grenache Noir or the Pasquiers Sauvignon Blanc at €24.00. There is a further five red or white priced between €28.00 and €37.00. There is also a Rose, an Italian prosecco and a couple of champagnes for that special celebration. We opted for a half bottle of the Lamberti Pinot Grigio for myself and my husband chose the half of the Lamberti Valpolicella Classico, both priced at €14.95
For dessert we decided to bring a couple of liqueur coffees into the fire, however could have been tempted by vanilla panna cotta, sticky toffee pudding, warm apple tart or chocolate fondant, all priced at €6.00
Castle Dargan is a beautiful spot; I am so often surprised by the quality of hotel and dining options available in Ireland at very reasonable prices. Bord Failte may be encouraging us to holiday at home for their own reasons, but a couple of days here, while exploring Sligo and the North West would be hard to beat.
*I just wanted to mention the option of dining in The Middleton Bar; from early on in the day you can have light snacks, or a more substantial dish, all well prepared and presented. Great options for a lighter bite or you just want something more casual. They also do a well recommended Friday Night Steak Out Menu, which is very popular locally.