Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

An Overnight stay at Tankardstown House

These deal websites will be the death of me. Tempting me from all sides with offers of overnight stays, 3 course dinners and fish pedicures (all of which I have purchased and enjoyed). Some while back, one of the smaller sites BedDeals.ie offered an overnight stay with dinner at Tankardstown House, near Slane, Co. Meath. Conde Nast Traveller recently voted this venue the best private house on the island of Ireland, so I gladly purchased the deal.

We arrived towards the end of a gloriously sunny evening, which really showcased the grounds and house to the best effect possible. Tankardstown House has all the features you could ever possibly want in a country house - large sweeping driveway, wide expansive lawns, walled gardens and even two dogs lying outside keeping an eye on the world.

Stitch and Bear - The terrace at Tankardstown
The Terrace at Tankardstown
After checking in, we were shown to our room which turned out to be one of the cottage rooms located just a short hop from the main house in what probably was the old stables, enclosing a little courtyard. Our cottage turned out to be très confortable with a lovely kitchen, sitting room and two upstairs bedrooms. This would definitely be a lovely location for a family holiday, and it's even possible to arrange for a chef to come and cook for you in the privacy of your cottage (Aga is provided!).

We headed back to the main house for a drink before dinner. Inside, the house is beautiful with perfect period features and decor. The bar turned out to be an honour bar so we had the  fun of playing bartender and pouring our own drinks before we settled down into the comfortable leather seats and relaxed in the evening sunshine. The genial owner Brian Conroy (who owns Tankardstown along with his wife Trish) stopped and chatted with us for several minutes.

Before we knew it, it was time to head to our included dinner. With drinks in hand, we left the main house and walked the short distance to the Old Cow Shed which thankfully now hosts the charming Brabazon restaurant. On the way, we passed the little bar which is cosily tucked inside the old cellars. The menu is full of seasonal produce and prices are quite competitive. After ordering, we received a bread basket full of fresh-baked, tasty sliced bread.

Stitch and Bear - Bread basket at Brabazon in Tankardstown
Bread Basket at Brabazon
Our starters were
  • Corned Swiss Eye of Martin Callaghan's Beef with soused cauliflower, Castlebellingham blue cheese, roasted bone marrow with black pudding (8). To be honest, I was disappointed by the beef, both in quantity and taste, but the bone marrow and black pudding mixture was phenomenonal and should really have received the star billing
  • Smoked Duck Salad with crispy duck pastilles, pink grapefruit, fennel and Cointreau jelly (9). This was a lovely salad with tangy fresh meat to balance the rich meat.
Stitch and Bear - Corned Swiss Eye of Martin Callaghan's Beef at Brabazon in Tankardstown
Corned Swiss Eye of Martin Callaghan's Beef
Stitch and Bear - Smoked duck salad at Brabazon in Tankardstown
Smoked Duck Salad
Main courses were
  • Roast loin of suckling pig, rilette of the leg, potato terrine, Peter Callaghan's black pudding, crispy bacon with apple & pear cider puree (26). This was attractively presented on a wooden chopping board witha little jug of the gravy on the side. All the meat components were well cooked and tasty, but the gravy was a bit of a let-down.
  • Baked fillet of Atlantic hake with saffron creamed leeks and salsify, pommes puree, Annagassan crab saald and tempura courgette flower (22). This was a substantial piece of fish, served atop the potatoe. The saffron sauce was delicious, working well with the fish and crab (which was stuffed inside the tempura courgette flower).
Stitch and Bear - Roast loin of suckling pig Beef at Brabazon in Tankardstown
Roast Loin of Suckling Pig
Stitch and Bear - Baked fillet of Atlantic hake at Brabazon in Tankardstown
Baked Fillet of Atlantic Hake
After this great dinner, it was time to turn in for the night. Even the short walk back to our cost cottage was magical, bathed in the summer twilight. Rolling into our super comfortable bed, I wished that I didn't have to ever leave. Something about Tankardstown causes you to wish to escape from everyday life, and simply spend each day wandering about their grounds, or relaxing in the comforts of your own cottage. 

Although an often misued cliche, Tankardstown really does represent a oasis of calm and an escape from the modern rat race. It's full of modern conveniences and luxury (Molton Brown goodies in the bathrooms with Wi-Fi in the Courtyard), but it all fits together in the periodic charm that seeps from every stone. Simply put, I'm already wondering when I can fit in another visit. 

Tankardstown House, Slane, Co. Meath.
Tel: (041) 982 4621
Twitter: @Tankardstown


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2 comments

julieon said...

Hi Joanne, I'm staying at Tankardstown shortly. I'm curious about the self-catering option in the cottages. Is it set up so that you can actually use the cooker, to cook a steak for instance, or is it more for show?

Julie

dudara said...

Hi Julie - the cookers looked genuine enough to me and the whole kitchen was well setup. The only way to be certain though is to give them a call. Lucky you, Tankardstown is lovely.

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