Lisloughrey Lodge, Cong, Mayo
Cong Co. Mayo.
Lisloughrey Lodge is perched above Lough Corrib, just outside the village of Cong, and next door to the famous Ashford Castle. Lisloughrey was originally the estate manager’s house for Ashford, back when it was owned by the Guinness family. In recent years the original country house has been expanded and a fine boutique hotel has been created.
The view from Lisloughrey is fabulous, just below is Lisloughrey Quay, where in summer some fine cruisers will be moored, and beyond that is the lake, with it’s smattering of green islands. The interior is very tastefully decorated in light shades, set of by fine wooden floors. This is owned and operated by the people behind The G hotel in Galway, so expect quirky design touches, and counterintuitive surprises, which always delight.
Paolo has often remarked that sometimes it’s a good idea to follow chefs when they move. This is one of those times. A few years ago we came across a young chef called Jonathan Keane who was doing surprising and delightful things with food in Westport. Jonathan has now been head hunted, and has taken over the kitchens in Lisloughrey, where he is joined by Nevin Maguire’s formed restaurant manager Jorg Demmerer. A formidable combination in anyone’s book.
The dining room is on the first floor with views over the Quay and lake. There are three interconnection rooms, which are beautifully proportioned and elegantly decorated. Jonathan is here only recently and so the menu is evolving, it changes nightly and uses local sourced ingredients when possible.
To give you a flavour, starters included a cauliflower and smoked bacon soup, Kate McCormack’s pate and rhubarb, turf smoked scallops and white bean cassoulet and aKilleengoat’s cheese parcel with plum puree and Mulranny honey. Main courses offered a pan roast John Dory, slow cooked pork belly, MASS lamb with and a feather blade of beef with nettle risotto.
A signature amuse Bouche of black pudding and chocolate bon bon got our taste buds going, and set the standard. The first time we ate Jonathan’s food, Deirdre ordered Kate McCormack’s pate, which comes from the famous butcher shop inWestport. It’s made the transition with the chef, and she she had it again, this time with a more refined rhubarb jelly. Presentation was wonderful; the pate was served on an ice cream stick and rolled in nuts, so it looked like a new Magnum. If it looked good, it tasted better. I had the goat’s cheese parcel, a light simple dish that depends on the quality of the cheese, which wasn’t lacking here.
Main courses were an excellent piece of John Dory, cooked au Pointe, with caramelised chicory and samphire butter. I loved the feather blade of beef, a cheaper cut that bursts with flavour when cooked for hours. Nettle risotto was a wonderful touch, a lighter option than creamy mash, but no slouch in the flavour department. We managed one dessert between us, a gooey dark chocolate fondant, hiding black olives inside, which was sinfully good, and finished with coffee.
Lisloughrey is beautiful. Jorg runs the front of house with style and precision, and Jonathan Keane is one of the country’s most exciting chefs in my opinion. We expect great things from Lisloughrey, and one of Mayo’s great country houses is definitely back to top form.