Belleek Castle – Ballina – Eire
The castle of drunk beef
- Daniel Walsh
The Belleek Castle looks a bit like fairy tales. After crossing a huge fortified gate, you travel several hundred meters in a large wooded park to finally appearing at the corner of a bend, placed on a hill, a castle with gray hues contrasting incredibly with a grass of a green not found.
Crossing the front door, you are immersed in a world that oscillates between the medieval armor, the remains of eighteenth century ships used to make the bar, chandeliers and buffets that would not demerit in the most beautiful museums.
The restaurant is in the same style though a bit more rustic. It is true that the castle is regularly busy for weddings or seminars. So you need solid!
Paul Doran is a well-informed amateur, almost enlightened by his obsession of beautiful bottles. He has a superb cellar that would make many sommeliers green with envy. The list is longer than the Nile, with multiple international variations.
In addition, our owner does not force the sale since he guided me to a bottle, a Pinot noir Rochioli 2013, much cheaper than the one I had originally chosen, a 2012 Sonoma Pinot Noir Kosta Brown Coast. And as we sympathized, he offered me in the middle of the meal to open my first choice to taste it! We ended up sampling a Château d’Yquem 1997. Do I really have to comment? !!
But back to the plate, that was our first reason to come here.
When I informed our landlady that we were going to dinner at Belleek Castle, her billiard-eyed eyes made me understand its reputation for excellent food was well established.
The breads are really excellent. Particularly this “soda bread” which is made not with yeast but with baking soda and milk “ribot”. It is accompanied by brioche bread for those who want lighter to start.
As an appetizer, a few slices of smoked beef with mushroom mayonnaise and cucumber. It’s pretty thin. It is unfortunate that the slice of cucumber is too thick and without any seasoning. The other elements are worked and it is a little rough in the middle of others.
As a starter, chef David O’Donnell uses local “fuel”, turf, to smoke a piece of lamb. It’s good but we would like a little more strength. Either the turf does not give a particular taste, and in this case, as much smoked with conventional wood, or while the meat should be smoked a little longer. This starter is very good but less original than expected.
The scallops are presented with a crumbled crab and mussels. The first are perfectly cooked, neither the crab nor the mussels come to encroach on their fine taste. The few branches of dill bring a welcome herbaceous power. And some caviar grains more.
We start the tough part with drunk beef at Jameson. Impressive (and funny) preparation of a beef tenderloin stuck on an authentic fifteenth-century sword made in Taiwan. The waiter dramatically blazes at Jameson whiskey. This “service en salle” is like you don’t often see!
The deer fillet is perfectly cooked, “rosé” and very tender. Country accompaniment of vegetables. Fortunately we are spared the evergreen potatoes that invade Irish dishes too often.
Beautiful Pavlova with wild red fruits for dessert.
It is therefore a beautiful discovery that this Belleek Castle, with a very pleasant atmosphere, a little outdated but I love it. I will return one day to discover the rooms.
Do not hesitate to take a tour before or after your meal at the bar. It is made of ship recovery wood and is shaped like a quarter-deck. Apart from the radiator that detonates a bit, the owner has created an atmosphere out of time.
Thanks again to Paul Doran for welcoming us and having some of his beautiful bottles tasted.
A little inconvenience, the chef is a little rigid on the menu service schedules.
Very reasonable addition of 219,50 euros for 2. I do not integrate the two glasses of Yquem extra.
Tel: 00 353 96 22400
Addrese: Belleek House, Garrankeel, Ballina, Co. Mayo, Irlande