The Olive Grove Restaurant Athlone
The Olive Grove is on the banks of the Shannon, in the heart of Athlone. This restaurant has a serious Wow factor; the Shannon River flows beneath, boats cruise by and there are great views of the bridge and the church. On a summers day you would be hard pressed to find a finer perch to watch the world go by over a leisurely lunch or dinner.
This modern building extends to two floors; on the top level they have a function room which can welcome approximately forty customers within their own private dining area, while at ground floor there is the bar and restaurant.
The setting is modern contemporary, the room being long and narrow. The restaurant stretches along the river with patio doors running all the way down opening onto the deck. There is also a long bar area; a great destination on a Friday evening after work with a full license, great atmosphere and no obligation to eat.
Needless to say, we sat at the window to enjoy the view. There is a selection of set menu options; a children’s menu runs from soup at €3 to roast of the day at €7.95, a value menu offers 2 courses for €20 and a couple can have four courses and a bottle of wine for €65., and of course the A la Carte.
Set starters offer golden fried Brie wedges with cinnamon scented plum coulis, fish cakes with chilli and ginger or pan fried Gilligan Farm black pudding with tomato and mint chutney. Mains include glazed spiced pork belly on champ potatoes with an apricot and cranberry chutney or a crostini style Five-Mile Town goats cheese soufflé on spiced ratatouille with herb oil.
We stuck with the A la Carte which offers a very wide selection with ten starters ranging in price from €5.35 for chef’s soup of the day to €8.75 for sautéed chilli and garlic tiger prawns served with grilled crusty bread. Main courses start at €15.50 for a homemade beef burger with homemade chips to €25.95 for a grilled sirloin of milk fed veal with Lyonnaise potatoes. The wine list is well chosen and runs from €18 up to some fine wines in the fifties, including a Chateau Neuf de Pape and a Montrachet Burgundy Les Houllieres. We decided on a Domain Seuinot Chablis at a reasonable €33, which proved a good choice.
We enjoyed a tandoori chicken salad served in a poppadom with a spiced mango & coriander cream, which was light and very tasty, and Bannon Bay mussels steamed in a tarragon, garlic & Pernod cream to start. The mussels were large and soft, and the Pernod made a nice variation on the original.
To follow I opted for roast fillet of plaice with an Irish crabmeat & prawn stuffing, which worked very well and was an unusual touch. He stayed on the land, or perhaps the sky, with a duo of Silver Hill duck; cider, honey & truffle glazed confit of leg & grilled breast with a carrot & cumin puree. The confit was packed full of guilty flavour and the breast was pink and juicy with a sweet roasted plum jus.
The Olive Grove is the perfect location in Athlone, so whether you are out to lunch or dinner with the girls or a few drinks with friends in the evening, it is definitely worth a visit. The food is contemporary, exciting and there are plenty of options price wise. A restaurant with their finger on the pulse, in a pulse quickening location.