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Monday, 15 November 2010

EATING OUT ~ CASTLEMURRAY HOUSE

We managed to get a night in Daisy Cottage at the weekend and at long last made it to Castle Murray House for a meal.  We had been intending to go there for so long as it has been years since we last ate there but as we all know time just moves on and you forget or are too busy.

Ruins of McSwynes Castle (in front of Castle Murray House)

Dinner is a set 3 course meal with tea or coffee for €45 per person which whilst not cheap in our current economic climate, turned out to be excellent value for the quality of food and service offered in Castle Murray.

Although Castle Murray is only a few minutes drive from Daisy Cottage, just along St. John's Point, we intended to buy a bottle of wine and so booked our local Dunkineely taxi, Charlie Meehan, to get us there.  The weather on Saturday evening was pretty cold and so we were glad to get through the doors and into the warmth of the restaurant.

Inside they have a seating area along the front windows which during daylight must be a lovely place to sit and take in the views of McSwynes Bay and McSwynes castle ruins which lie just down the hill from Castle Murray.  But if was a dark night and there was nothing to see so instead we sat in the cosy bar just off the main hallway.

After making ourselves comfortable at one of the tables, we were immediately welcomed and handed menus and a wine list and our drinks order was taken.  I had read their menu online in Daisy Cottage so knew exactly what I was having but my husband had not and so I waited as he chose, hoping he would order my second choices ... something I usually do so that I get to enjoy both my first choice and sample my second.  It was all good and without any (or very little) influence from me he chose them.  I stuck with my choice of prawns and monkfish.  Incidentally, there is a deep hole in Donegal Bay where monkfish can be caught.

After our order was taken we took time to look over the extensive wine list and chose a bottle of Croze Hermitage, a wine we both enjoy and one which I hadn't had for quite some time having in recent years favoured whites.  The wines have a reasonable mark up and our Croze Hermitage came in at €31.

When our food was ready we were taken to our table, and it was a table I would have immediately chosen sited as it was well away from the kitchen and loos.  I hate being anywhere near the kitchen or on the route to the lavatories and never sit at such tables.  I sometimes fear I am turning into Michael Winner!  Whom I love.

The dining room resembles a large country kitchen and has a lovely open fire on one wall and windows on the other exterior walls which must offer fabulous views during daylight hours.  Once seated we were offered and took some delicious homemade bread onto which we loaded some very good homemade tapenade.  A jug of fresh water was delivered to the table without any prompting from us.

While eating our bread our starters arrived.  Mine "Prawns and Monkfish in Garlic Butter", his "Fresh Donegal Crab with Lemon Grass and Leek Cream".  Both were spot on.  I particularly enjoyed mine as the chef obviously means it when he says Garlic Butter, so many places seem to think garlic means just wafting a piece of it over a dish which is most annoying to people like me who love their garlic.  I thought the way they cooked and served the monkfish and prawns was a super idea: in a snail dish.  The little pods holding either a bit of monkfish or a bit of prawn in garlic butter kept them perfectly tender.

Prawns and Monkfish in Garlic Butter


Donegal Crab Ravioli, lemon grass, leek cream


For our main course I had "Pan-Fried Scallops, tomato, caper and chive concass, lemon butter" and he had "Game of the Week" which was grouse.

Breast and confit leg of Grouse
We both love game and this was one strong tasting grouse!  They did promise/warn that the game was strong and they didn't lie.  I had a little piece of both the confit leg of grouse and the breast of grouse which arrived ~ fabulous. 

My sensational scallops!
My scallops were an absolute sensation.  Fat, translucent, and super tasty orbs of flavour.  I know I am waxing lyrical here but they really were tip top, better in fact than my previous favourites, those served in O'Gradys in Barna, County Galway. 



Little dishes of creamy mashed potato, broccoli, gratin potatoes and carrots came with the main courses.


Cheese board and cheese biscuits
After dinner we were given time to relax before the dessert menu was brought to us.  Neither of us are really into desserts and so went for the "Irish and French Cheese Board" which arrived served on a pretty piece of glass in the shape of a bottle with a selection of about half a dozen cheeses, a finely sliced apple and a side of perfect little cheese biscuits.  Our excellent coffees arrived with the cheese board as requested.  I liked the way we were asked whether we wanted the coffee with or after and that our request of with was met.

Later we retired to the hall seating area to relax and finish off our wine whilst awaiting our taxi.  Castle Murray lived up to it's excellent reputation ... and then some.  And we will certainly be back there very soon.

Castlemurray House website: HERE

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