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Tasting Menu At Waterfront Lodge Shines Culinary Mild On Donegal

Columbia Hillen

My spouse, Columbia, referred to as it a “harmful restaurant” – one of many highest compliments she, a medical herbalist and a nice novice chef – might bestow.

The restaurant she was referring to is just named 106 Atlantic, after a fishing boat that sank off the northwestern Irish coast, and it’s the flagship of the Waterfront Lodge, a 4-star property situated simply exterior the charming Donegal city of Dungloe.

Columbia Hillen

As the favored seaside city prepares to have fun its annual ‘Mary From Dungloe Worldwide Arts Competition,’ resort officers are formally unveiling their connoisseur restaurant, full with one of many first-ever tasting menus within the county.

Sampling a few of the dishes final week, I used to be impressed, not simply with the style but in addition the range and the presentation, every dish set in a in a different way designed plate. Appropriately entitled ‘Land Meets Sea,’ my spouse and I loved a leisurely seven-course lunch properly into the afternoon within the consolation of the re-decorated eating room with great views over the Atlantic Ocean and its rocky, rugged shoreline.

Govt Chef Agnelo Cruz. Photograph by Columbia Hillen

A lot consideration has been given by Govt Chef Agnelo Cruz, 40, as to the weather that represent a diverse but complementary tasting menu and his choices are top-notch. His worldwide culinary expertise as govt chef for the Celeb Cruise Line 5 years and chef de delicacies for Disney Cruise Line for 3 years, as properly former head chef at Donegal’s Clanree Lodge, is far in proof. 

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Our lunch started with a refreshing amuse-bouche of chilled ice melon bisque that includes honeydew melon from native provider, Foyle Fruit, with apple, raspberry and recent mint. 

Our palates thus ready, our starter arrived – in a really well timed method too – medium cooked lamb chops served with minted chorizo, the sauce being selfmade, and – surprisingly – hazelnut compote, the latter including a crunchy texture to the entire. The meat was properly cooked, tender and medium, with only a trace of rose-red.

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Soup adopted subsequent, a wealthy, tomato-based blue shell crab bisque, the seafood delivered straight from Killybegs, one in all Eire’s premier fishing ports, a 45-minute drive away. In contrast to some seafood soups, this one was beneficiant in its parts of sentimental crab, a sea creature normally discovered properly out at sea, and served right here with crème fraîche and garlic rouille. Including to the event, Sebastian Dawczynski from Kraków in Poland, the resort’s restaurant supervisor, ceremoniously poured the sauce into our bowls table-side, thus including to the event.

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Attention-grabbing conversations with Agnelo, resort common supervisor, Martina Rafferty and Sebastian supplied congenial between-course interludes whereupon we discovered how Falcarragh-native Martina is a nice musical multi-instrumentalist and has travelled worldwide gaining broad hospitality expertise in varied settings; how Agnelo is a local of Portugal, like his father, his mom being from India; and the way Sebastian, who previously labored at Harvey’s Level resort in Donegal, now calls peaceable Arranmore Island just a few miles away his new residence. 

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Up subsequent on the menu was Agnelo’s model of a chilly salad with corn fed rooster gallantine, comprising tossed lamb lettuce served with port wine jelly, carrot noodles and creamed curry yoghurt, my companion describing the plate presentation as “zucchini boat with two sails.” Enhancing the flavour of the dish, the rooster was pressed with skinny slices of Parma ham and salami. 

A time-out earlier than the principle dish arrived within the type of a palate cleanser of cool, selfmade ardour fruit sorbet served with Prosecco.

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Our rising sense that we had no stomach area for the entrée dissipated instantly when a tantalising ‘Land Meets Sea’ combo of grilled beef twister with Lyonnaise potatoes, Béarnaise sauce and baked lobster with brown butter potato mousseline and Nantua sauce (named after the French metropolis of Nantua, recognized for its crayfish) with roasted chateau greens, appeared earlier than us. My spouse poetically described the presentation of this plate as “a miniature map of Donegal with rocky cliffs, the ocean and seashores.”

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It has been a few years since I final tasted ‘Baked Alaska,’ a reputation coined by a chef at a New Orleans restaurant in 1867 to honor the acquisition by the USA of Alaska from the Russian Empire that very same yr. My expertise was in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri the place I used to be working as a tv reporter. It proved to be an unforgettable event. A nervous waitress, who sadly had simply damaged up together with her longtime boyfriend, poured a profuse quantity of brandy on my dessert and when lighted, set all the crisp white tablecloth ablaze, inflicting smoke to billow to the ceiling and a madcap rush to different diners’ tables to extinguish the fireplace with ‘stolen’ jugs of water. 

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Fortunately, underneath Agnelo’s skilled steering, the native Dungloe fireplace brigade didn’t need to be referred to as out. His progressive model of the dessert referred to as ‘Baked Alaska Droplets’ – although the three candy mounds of sponge with caramelised meringue embracing a berry compote and ice cream on every of our plates – have been definitely a lot bigger than droplets – got here flameless, thank Heavens, and scrumptious. 

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As pageant celebrations get underway this weekend at this scenic coastal city on the well-known ‘Wild Atlantic Approach,’ maybe it’s the right time to savour the event much more on the Waterfront Lodge. 

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