Redcastle - Go Dine with them!

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THINK Gourmet and what springs to mind? Luxury? Indulgence? Extravagance? High living?

THINK Gourmet and what springs to mind? Luxury? Indulgence? Extravagance? High living?

Well thanks to a unique dining offer from Redcastle you can experience all of the above and throw in affordable, accommodating, convenient and relaxing for good measure.

Seven superb courses, beautifully prepared and presented by Head Chef Gordon Smyth (pictured right) and accompanied by a selection of fine wines personally selected by William Tindall of Tindall Wine Merchants was not exactly the toughest of assignments I’ve ever received but one accepted gladly.

From the outset, perhaps it would be fair to state that I’m not a regular on the gourmet food circuit, nor am I a connoisseur of wine, fine or otherwise, but one evening in the picturesque surroundings of the Redcastle, whose staff were exemplary throughout, was all it took to convert me.

Perhaps it is the perceived expense which puts some off sampling this type of dining, I know it is something which would make me think twice in the past when planning a meal but 45 euro per person without wines (or just 10 euro more for wine with each course) suddenly renders that line of thought redundant though the special one night stay package is the one I would recommend. From just 89 Euro per person, you get to use all the Redcastle first class leisure and spa facilities before you dine, making it the ideal gift or treat.

So, after taking advantage of the idyllic surroundings and the superb facilities on offer in the hotel, the evening began in earnest with a drinks reception and a refreshing mojito or two before taking our seats in the Hotel’s Edge Restaurant which over looks Lough Foyle.

A quick reading of the evening’s menu presented more than one mystery for the novice gourmet diner but any apprehension disappeared the minute the amuse bouche (which translates literally as ‘mouth amuser’) arrived. Beautifully presented and with a lovely hint of salmon, the appetiser more than did the job and was complemented expertly by the Torrontés, Domaine Bousquet, Mendoza wine, my personal favourite of five served.

Next up was the salad of Grencastle Crab, beignet and compressed melon with textures of beetroot and feta cheese, another course which your mouth will thank you for trying. With the conversation and background music creating a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, we moved to the veloute celeraic and truffle, confit duck, which to you or me vaguely resembled a thick soup but that description does little justice to what was a brilliant dish. Again both courses were matched by first class wines, although neither reached the height of the exceptional opening selection.

A refreshing Lemongress Granita was a nice change of pace before the evening’s highlight, a choice of two main courses - roast curried monkfish or seared loin of Finnebrogue venison. Anxious to sample both my wife and I chose one each and while my monkfish was delightful, it had to play second fiddle to it’s venison counterpart which was quite simply the nicest piece of meat I think I have ever tasted. It was that good.

The desert was a chocolate lover’s dream with mousse, brownie, white chocolate and Cep Parfait with Valrhona chocolate ice-cream which was accompanied by a 2005 Château Barbier as sweet as the desert itself. Tea and Petit fours followed as a meal I had expected to struggle slightly but time breezed past in almost four hugely enjoyable hours.

The names of the individual components which comprise what I found to be an unforgettable menu may mean little to those with a limited gourmet knowledge but, as I can testify, you don’t need to possess a food critic’s palate to enjoy great food and wine. If you add in the professional and courteous service which is always guaranteed from the Redcastle, the only thing you need to bring is company and conversation to ensure an evening which will live long in the memory.

Bon appetit.