Garden of earthly delights
The jazz hands are slightly more muted on my plate, which is squid done three ways, perfectly crispy fried rings, a pouch stuffed with vegetables and smothered in an earthy saffron tomato sauce and the chewy tentacle-y bit, which has been marinated in lemon.
We get two glasses of the house Colombard, Le Montalus, on the excellent waitress’s recommendation. It’s keenly priced at €5.50.
After the first act there’s something of an “oh” at the change of tone when the mains arrive. It’s as if someone in the kitchen said enough cheffing let’s start cooking so my “glazed boneless lamb shank with carrots, garden peas and onion” is a Ronseal dinner. It does exactly what it says on the tin.
There’s a lamb shank that’s been cooked slowly and tenderly, and peas, carrots, and an onion. The only cheffy touch is a smooth potato purée into which the peas have been dotted like a spoilsport parent’s idea of hundreds and thousands.
Ali’s risotto is a huge portion of good plain butternut squash risotto with two tempura prawns on top, which feel slightly like they belong on another plate. The sweet chunks of squash still have bite, otherwise this would be babyfood mush. Both main courses are much better than average gastropub dishes. Maybe it’s the bar food in “bar and grill”.
Desserts ride both horses, the simple and the fussy. A large bowl of Gathabawn farm ice creams tastes creamy enough to slap on your face. My lemon almond polenta cake comes with jewel tricolour pyramid jellies and is undersweet, which I like but may not please dedicated sugar fiends.
The bar is set high for restaurants opening in tough times and, despite a little bit of incoherence, Eden Bar and Grill looks more than up to the challenge. Dinner for two with three glasses of wine and a mint tea comes to €83.
Here’s a surprise in lovely Leitrim
Cruisers (of the boating variety) are already well acquainted with Harkins Bistro in Dromod, Co Leitrim. It’s got one of those lovely riverside locations that make you think a river cruise mightn’t be a bad way to see the countryside. The food is worth a detour even if you are not travelling by boat. We had a light lunch of two starters, slices of pork belly on a brilliant potato cake and a generous portion of chicken liver parfait with red onion marmalade and a home-made chutney.
The boys had good pasta with home-made sauce and chicken goujons and chips. The “surprise” kiddies dessert was a scoop of ice cream in a plastic cartoon character innards. Service was as slow as a canal boat but the place was so relaxing we didn’t mind. The bill for the family lunch came to €52.85
Harkins Bistro, Shannon View, Dromod, Co Leitrim, tel: 071-9658718