I reckon that I've driven over 1,300 km in the last 2.5 weeks. Although I live in Dublin, my newest client is based in Cork, and I've also been trekking between Cork and Waterford for family Christmas obligations. In the two and a half years I've owned my beloved car, I've nearly doubled the mileage on it and I've only slept in my own bed 2 nights out of the last 20.
The funny thing is that I kind of like being out on the road. I love driving, and although I dislike being away from home, I also do some of my best work when I'm cooped up in hotel rooms, removed from the distractions of home. Still though, it's no substitute for your own bed and sofa.
Thanks to all this drving between Cork and Waterford, I've finally been able to visit two establishments that have long been on my wish list. Several weeks ago we enjoyed a pre-Christmas lunch in O'Brien's Chophouse in lovely Lismore, followed recently by lunch in the Bar at the Cliff House Hotel perched high on the cliffs over Ardmore Bay.
Although we arrived a little late in the afternoon, the Cliff House bar was doing a brisk trade with late-lunchers and cliff-walkers seeking some warmth after the icy winds. We got lucky and secured a table along the windows with a stunning view out over the sea. We initially put our eyes on the smoked haddock salad and crab claws as the front runners, but unfortunately they were not available, due to "supply chain issues". However, I consoled myself with an excellent Tinpot Hut Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (€9 per glass).
We shared a starter of McGrath's spiced beef with hazelnuts, parsley "pesto", cheddar and rocket (€9.50). It came carpaccio style with a tender pink centre and generous drizzles of pesto. I loved this twist on a Cork classic, and it tasted even better on a slice of the fresh brown bread.
|McGrath's Spiced Beef|
|Helvick cod fillet|
|Slowly roasted pork belly|
Initially himself had chosen a seafood and barley risotto, but clearly Sod's Law was ruling that day as the waitress returned from the kitchen to tell us that it was no longer available, so instead he chose the fillet of Helvick cod (€23.50). A substantial piece of dense meaty cod came served with a spinach crust, topped with toasted flaked almonds and a creamy white wine sauce. Slowly roasted belly pork came with butter fried onions and a rich gravy (€23.50) and we shared some lovely baby potatoes gratin and roasted root vegetables.
|Coffee with a tasty treat|
We finished with two very good coffees which came with a little plate of tasty mini-cakes studded with fresh sharp raspberries. The coffeees were listed on our bill at €4.50 each, but I was later informed by Adriaan Bartels (General Manager at the Cliff House Hotel, and all round good guy) that we should have been offered a pot of coffee for two, which comes with a lower price tag.
I literally had to drag myself out of the chair in order to leave. A feeling of wellbeing and relaxation had crept through me as we watched the rain sweep across the bay followed by a shimmering rainbow. After all the Christmas rush and mayhem, this had been the short tonic I required.
The Cliff House Hotel, Middle Road, Ardmore, Co Waterford
Tel: +353 (0)24 87 800