“I think we tip the guy who carried our bags….wait, where did he go?” So started our Saturday at The Cliff House. One of the side effects of graduating in a recession is a 20s of arrested development. Internships, temporary jobs, study, temporary homes, student houses with mice as unadvertised housemates and a general inability to be a proper grown-up. My generation seem to suffer a serious case of impostor syndrome when it comes to adulthood.Which is inconvenient when you find yourself in a place as distinctly grown up and sophisticated as this.
We booked a late dinner to take full advantage of the hotel, and may have had a bit of (Lidl) champagne which does not contribute to the best of recollections of the meal. I also used my cameraphone so the photos are fairly pants. The amuse bouche bore quite a resemblance to that in The Greenhouse, featuring a beetroot macaron with goats cheese, beetroot marshmallows covered in tiny bacon fragments and an asparagus panna cotta. The highlight, odd as it sounds, was an amazing baby potato baked in clay topped with a delicate mayonnaise. This was followed by a scallop starter, with three huge scallops pan fried with seaweed and served with “textures of celeriac” and a spinach jelly. This was accompanied with a ceviche of scallop with Dutch salad (more of a mayonnaise then a salad) and Irish herring caviar.
My main was a delicious stuffed rose veal with sweetbreads and bluefoot mushrooms. This was followed by an interesting carrot sorbet. It has to be noted here that the portions are far more substantial than you’d expect for a Michelin restaurant, and we were both very full by the time it came to dessert. I opted for what turned out to be an incredibly generous cheeseboard, complete with six Dutch, French and Irish cheeses, dehydrated grapes, all manner of lovely homemade crackers, and a really fresh tangy salad. Himself went for an incredible berry and white chocolate panna cotta. This was absolutely Michelin worthy cooking, exciting, different, but with just enough touch of comfort to feel really luxurious.
All this was washed down with some very unusual but lovely wine pairings served by an exceptionally young but very knowleadgable sommelier. Our dishes were served with wines from Greece and Morocco, along with some more traditional regions. Saturday being a busy night, we were seated in the private dining room, which I have to say did not have the same appeal as the main room, and I’d definitely request that going back. The next day, we were seated there with the Sunday papers for a gorgeous breakfast of fresh pastries, fruit salad and a traditional Irish fry-up which helped prepare us for the journey back to reality.
The Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford