It’s a hard oul’ station right enough, so don’t say I never do anything for you! For the past couple of weeks or so I’ve been on the road, and to make it all worthwhile, I’ve selected a few choice places to dine, simply so that I can share them with you! First off was Bar One in Castlebar, recently Awarded “Best Gastro Pub Mayo” at the 2011/12 RAI Awards. Bar One has modern, comfortable décor, warm, pleasant surroundings, with good spacing between tables. Music (the ever brilliant David Gray!) playing at appropriate volume. Very pleasant service. Starter – St. Tola’s Goats Cheese and Beetroot salad (on a bed of Joe’s organic leaves and toasted poppy, pumpkin and sunflower seeds with candied pecan nuts, house dressing) – Well presented in a salad bowl, great variety of leaves and herbs, very fresh tasting, perfect use of salad dressing to enhance but not drown the dish. Good quantity of St Tola cheese and beetroot. An excellent dish; Next I had Kelly’s of Newport Pork and Leek sausages (with mashed potato, sautéed onions and gravy) – Two good size sausages served with mash and separate from the onions. Gravy in gravy boat on the plate. Mash very smooth though may have benefitted from a little more seasoning. That said, the flavours were well balanced, with the sausages very meaty and cooked perfectly. Onions could have been sautéed more as they were a little underdone for me. Gravy was a little thin and tasted a little too strongly of the stock, though having it served on the side was a nice touch, allowing the diner to choose quantity desired. Finally dessert – Crumble of the Day – Apple Crumble served with custard and vanilla ice cream – A large portion of homemade (looking) apple crumble, served in dish with scoop of ice cream to one side and custard in jug served separately. Crumble was very good – good proportions of apple to crumble ratio, though the apple was a little overcooked. Bar One makes a huge effort to promote local producers – well done! I’ll be back! Next, on my way to Galway via Cavan (the scenic route…not!) was Grogan’s Pub in the lovely village of Glasson, Co.Westmeath. I had hoped to try the Fatted Calf, but it’s closed on Mondays. Not that Grogan’s disappointed! Far from it. I’ve been here many times before and it is consistently good. While many restaurants have come and gone, those who remain know their business – good quality, good service, reasonable prices, keeping an eye on maintaining their reputation, being consistent, all of these things make for best chances of continued success. So, I decided to go for the chowder. Now I like my chowder and am a bit fussy. I chose the large portion and it came in a bucket (not quite)! Really creamy, plenty of prawns and some other bits of fish (though the chunks of potato were a little undercooked), two types of brown bread – one with Guinness. I’ll be back here too!
Next on the journey was the Shamrat Indian Restaurant in Carrick, the Providence Market in Galway, and on to the Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna – watch this space!
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