The Mustard Seed Restaurant at Echo Lodge is in a word ‘convivial’ ! I am so glad I discovered this hidden gem just a few miles down the road from the prettiest thatched cottage village in Ireland, Adare. A beautiful old Irish Country House with the best of food in the most comfortable of settings, the Mustard Seed has a great reputation and a loyal local following. It is the kind of place we would drive to ourselves, for a wonderful meal and to stay overnight as a special treat. Which is really saying something considering this is what I do for a living, I know tough isn’t it? Fine dining can be a somewhat formal affair in Ireland as anywhere else in the world, but here in Dan Mullane’s fine country house establishment you will feel very much as home straight away. Imagine if you will, aperitifs by the fire while reading the menu and nibbling on a tasty hors d’oeuvre, surrounded by an eclectic mix of modern art and antiques, it’s a great start to an evening, wouldn’t you agree?
There are 8 courses on the seasonal menu which costs €75 each or a selection of 4 courses from the dinner menu which is equally as varied and costs €60. Eight courses may seem like a lot but trust me they are so perfectly balanced that you won’t even notice how much you have eaten until the coffee and the petit fours arrive. Seasonal and Irish with a mixture of game, wild boar and venison on the night we were there with quail, snipe and mallard also. Fish, a selection of turbot, clams, scallops and salmon on a creamy pumpkin risotto. With fresh greens greens and berries during the summer from their own organic walled gardens, it’s a satisfying as it is healthy and originally cooked. Not too much fuss, the flourishes are in the combination of flavours and the contrast of textures, it’s quite something and tangibly Irish....
The diningroom is lovely, it could be a tad brighter but there is plenty of space between the tables for intimacy and privacy and while the staff are really nice and totally professional, oh joy of joys, you are left in peace to enjoy your meal. There is an extensive wine list with 18 1/2 bottles of well priced wine to choose from which is nice if your partner would prefer a craft beer or you fancy alternating red and white throughout dinner. I have to say (without the slightest shame you’ll notice) that I thoroughly enjoyed everything on the tasting menu. From the butternut and honey velouté (soup) to the Cratloe Sheeps Cheese with warm mushroom bake and aubergine puree to the fish, perfect turbot and scallops on a pumpkin risotto. I was just thinking that I might have liked an extra spoonful of that delicious creaminess when along came a melange of venison, the highlight of the meal, which I could never have finished if I had my way with the risotto !
Mind you, I soon made way for the ‘no arguments’ chocolate desert, isn’t there great comfort when as surely as night follows day, the chocolate course arrives. Followed by an Irish artisan cheeseboard for sharing with homemade crackers and fat juicy grapes. It was a feast for the senses and surprisingly enough not overly filling. My tip from a gourmand friend is to finish with a peppermint tea to settle your stomach just in case. Sadly due to other commitments we couldn’t stay the night but I did have a peak at the bedrooms and they looked awfully inviting, next time! As we will definitely be back and I certainly would have no hesitation in recommending the Mustard Seed for dinner and /or an overnight stop en route to Dingle or Killarney.