I wanted to treat my long suffering wife with a well deserved 24 hour break from the day to day... I wanted to stay somewhere where we could eat well, relax and draw a breath. There was lots of obvious hotels and resorts, but did I want to be watching people walking around in bath robes? No. Did I want to share my precious 24 hours with a wedding party or corporate Ireland. Nope.
Enter "The old Convent". Yes, situated in a sleepy South Tipp town, it is well served by good roads and motorways, making it easily accessible for most of the country. Our route brought us via the always picturesque heritage town of Lismore in west Waterford. From there, a stunning drive through the Vee pass, awash with beautiful rhododendrons in full bloom. Thanks to advice from our hostess Christine, we stopped at the small car park and walked down the rough path past the Bay Lough, providing stunning views and an hours exercise.
Within less than 10 minutes of being back in the car we were arriving at the OC. Driving into the understated entrance, the driveway revealed all to herself (who was still non the wiser!). She turned to me and said "you never were predictable!". Nice.
We met the donkeys first, who rushed over to greet us. Either that, or they had the bag of carrots in their sights. The chooks had no interest in us, but our thoughts began to turn towards the culinary delights ahead! Inside the house, a charming Canadian lady welcomed us and gave us the tour. Shortly afterwards we relaxed in style in the drawing room with coffee and spectacular macaroons. Newspapers and Van the Man jamming in the background. Breathe.
So much has been written already about dinner, it's difficult to add too much. Wonderful. As with all tasting menus, some dishes sat better with us than others. To be super critical we did find both of the sweet dishes disappointing, in particular the baked cherry ricotta added nothing to the meal. Highlights for us were the pork belly, the champagne sorbet (notably, the ginger pickle to accompany) and the aga beef. Sublime. Having read previous reviews re: the wine list, I found the prices to be fair. We went with a very good Sancerre, and a memorable glass of sticky dessert wine, that compensated for the slightly underwhelming puddings. Then more coffee in the drawing room to round off a lovely evening.
For me though, my overwhelming highlight was my breakfast. Flute of sparkling raspberry juice. Great start. Then came the delicious granola and fruit pots, with the cinnamon apple, which was really good. The chickens then delivered for herself's smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, creme fraiche and trout caviar served with belini pancakes. She was happy! This is where I went off piste a little. The lovely lady who had greeted us the previous day who took great care of us during breakfast, looked thrilled when I ordered the savoury option. I knew I was onto a good thing! Enter Udon noodles, baby beets, minted pineapple, black sesame topped with the perfect fried egg. So many wonderful flavours, without doubt, one of my all time favourite breakfasts!
Dermot, quite correctly, was mentioned several times during the meals, so we were dissapointed that at no time did we get to say hello, especially after reading on many other reviews that seems to be standard practice. The front of house staff were lovely and efficient, and knowledgeable about the dishes, but we were sorry we didn't get to chat to the chef in a little more detail. Christine, however, was charming and runs a very good ship.
Thanks to all, I have to go off and earn a few more pennies so that we can go back...
- Also Known As:
- The Old Convent Hotel Clogheen
- Old Convent Clogheen
- Old Convent Hotel Clogheen
- The Old Convent Clogheen, Ireland - County Tipperary