Dermot Gannon (previously at Destrys of Clifden) now has his own restaurant, this time over a well known pub, The Bell, in a side street in Cahir .
This is an address to remember for anyone interested in dining at the table of a talented and progressive Irish chef who adds the flavour of the Orient to his locally sourced food.
Fresh flowers and a menu board at the door welcome diners arriving under the arch beside the pub, and stairs lead up to a restaurant of character on two floors: exposed brickwork, good lighting and promising crisp white linen-clad tables laid with quality china and glasses bode well; first impressions are confirmed by a warm welcome - and promptly presented menus which lead off with a list of local products: O'Briens potatoes, Grubb's Crozier & Cashel Blue cheese, Mrs Fryday's lettuce, Ballybrado organic meats, Cloverhill organic lamb, Whelan's dry aged beef, Condon's organic beef and Mulcahy free range eggs are all among those listed, plus the information that many of these products are available at the Saturday morning Cahir farmers' market.
Delicious freshly-baked breads see you through selecting from a mouthwatering choice of contemporary dishes; seven starters, for example, include dishes like baked Delahunty mushrooms with Ballymaloe tomato relish, garlic mayo & Thai barbecue dips, and an aromatic salad of shredded Ballybrado pork, with roasted cashew nut, Crozier blue cheese and hoi sin dressing.
While Gannon's steaks take pride of place (Whelan's 21 day dry aged 12 oz sirloin comes with whiskey pepper cream, at EUR24.95, served with "mile high" baked potato, stuffed with cheddar, scallions, bacon, creme fraiche & sweet chilli), Tipperary lamb is sure to feature too - cooked Kashmiri style, perhaps, and served with rosemary roasted new potatoes, baby pea cassoulet and mint. And, while this is really red meat country, a vegetarian crepe - stuffed with wild mushroom, local Baylough cheddar and many other good things - actually heads the bill and there will be a couple of fish dishes too.
Dermot's skilful cooking makes the most of top class ingredients, presentation is attractive and particularly well-suited to the dishes - oriental style starters for example, are served in Chinese noodle bowls, with chopsticks, and main courses in deep white pasta plates, fully garnished - and everything has great flavour.
Gorgeous desserts include a chocolate house speciality worth travelling for (a trio of excellent ganache, chocolate ice cream and chocolate mousse), and caring, helpful staff ensure that everyone has a great time. Outstanding quality, creative cooking and generous portions all add up to great value - and a terrific asset to Cahir. The wine list is short but well-chosen, and also good value.
Bar meals downstairs are also supplied by the restaurant, and there is some overlap of menus. GC
Text by Georgina Campbell, reproduced with kind permission.
Visit her website on http://www.ireland-guide.com/