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Restaurant Review - The Grill & Bar @ Lyrath Estate Hotel

Restaurant Review - The Grill & Bar @ Lyrath Estate Hotel

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Hotels have been doing well for the past few years, with many gearing up for the supposed boom times ahead – let’s not put a damper on things by mentioning Brexit. The Garryvoe Hotel in east Cork have revamped their bedrooms, following the addition of its Samphire restaurant, and a cocktail bar that would give any of the hip places on the D2 golden mile a run for their money.

In Killarney, an €18m investment turned The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens into one of the finest hotels in the country. Its revamp included a fab big Grill Restaurant, which is buzzy, reasonably priced, and has stunning views of the Gap of Dunloe. In this vein, the Lyrath Estate Hotel in Kilkenny was my destination for this week's review.

I love Kilkenny, not just because of my black and amber heritage, but because, with its imposing castle, it's so atmospheric. It has also become a dining destination with great restaurants including Ristorante Rinuccini; the Kilkenny Design Centre’s Anocht restaurant; Truffles; Harpers at the Kilkenny Hibernian; and Rive Gauche. Not to mention the Michelin starred Campagne and the Lady Helen Room at Mount Juliet in Thomastown.

Lyrath Estate Hotel, which opened in 2006, is set around an historic 17thC house on a 170-acre estate of lakes, gardens and woodlands. It has undergone a 3-year transformation which saw the launch of a stunning high-atriumed restaurant, The Grill & Bar, on their mezzanine level, with panoramic views of the surrounding estate.

The new Executive Chef here is Carlow man Kenneth Murphy who has considerable international experience having worked not only in Germany but on the QE2 cruise ship, where they catered for almost 2,000 passengers and a 1,000 crew each day. He then joined Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition Group of fabulous holiday retreats, working at the 5-Star Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa, and then Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco. Next, it was on to the prestigious Anantara Resorts in Thailand and the Maldives, before returning to Ireland, where he was more recently at Fota Resort in Cork.

Murphy's menu is right on the nose of today’s dining – featuring oysters, soft shell crab, fresh lobster from their tank, hoi sin duck and fashionable sharing plates for two, like Chateaubriand (€72); or, for four people, a Surf 'n Turf combo 1200g of Tomahawk steak and a fresh lobster from the tank (€140). However, not everyone likes digging in together, so lots of individual mains feature too (€16-€34), including veggie options.

We rolled up for lunch, where a curated version of the dinner menu offered a good choice, or you could opt for home-made soda bread sandwiches or fresh tortilla wraps (€11.50-€12.50) of crab, smoked salmon, prawn Marie Rose, chicken, home-baked ham or Halloumi. Toasties were not the normal boring versions either, having confit duck, butternut squash and spiced plum relish.

Starters (€10.50-€14.50) included wings and an attractive-sounding fritto misto. Spoiled for choice, we shared a great fish board (€15.75), which had Goatsbridge BBQ trout, ample folds of smoked salmon, mackerel pate, grilled toast and rocket. Mains (€16-€22) included venison pie, seabass, a 210g Hereford beef burger, and a grilled-chicken club on brioche with 'nduja mayo. Grilled leeks, hazelnut mayo, soft duck egg, roasted hazelnut and Parmesan winked at us, as did truffle linguine with grilled white asparagus. Rena went with a plentiful and well-spiced roasted sweet potato and cauliflower tikka masala curry (€16.75), while I had crisp lemon sole (€18.95) in a light tempura batter with rocket, spiced mayo, and Parmesan fries.

As we were going to eat again that night, desserts had to be sacrificed, but we did have a look. All priced at €8.95 – Baileys & white chocolate cheesecake was with salted-caramel ice cream; lemon posset was served with meringue and berries; chocolate fondant had berry compote and vanilla ice cream; and a cheese plate featured Irish cheese, fruit paste, and crackers.

With mineral water (€4.90), one coffee (€3.40) and service, which was excellent, our bill came to €65.95.

The Grill & Bar,
Lyrath Estate Hotel,
Dublin Road, Kilkenny.
Tel: (056) 776-0088

First Published In The Sunday Independent