Seafood with a sea view
The lobster at Linn Duachaill, Co Louth is a real triumph – they should put it on the lunch menu, writes CATHERINE CLEARY
SO MANY OF our buildings show a sullenness towards the sea. They sit facing resolutely away from the water, wrapping bricks around their occupants, as if the sea was an irritating source of wind and cold. The Glyde Inn in the tiny Louth fishing village of Annagassan looks, from the road, like such a building. It’s as traditional a pub as you can imagine when you stop in front of its redbrick facade. Inside it’s an old-fashioned, cosy nook-and-cranny place, where a tired fisherman could relax by a fire and forget the waves outside its walls.
But at the back of the building the Glyde Inn has a separate, newish wing which houses its restaurant. When you walk into it you get a view so spectacular that even my three year-old remarks on how “the mountains are falling into the sea”. Posters around the place show they’ve just “relaunched” the restaurant calling it Linn Duachaill, the name of the 9th-century Viking longphort, or ship camp, that once sat nearby.
The set-up is all very definite. None of your gastropub crossover nonsense. The pub is at the front, the restaurant at the back. I have arrived with a class of a booking, having phoned the place earlier that morning to book a table for two adults and two children. “That’s grand,” the man said. Did he need a name for the booking? The answer was along the lines of: “No. Sure that’s fine.” And as we’re early and the place is empty, it is.
It’s a big comfortable restaurant with lots of pine and a flat strand beyond the window that instantly reminds my aunt of her childhood trips to nearby Blackrock in Louth and the long freezing trek from beach to water, to swim when the tide was out.
The Cooley Mountains lie the other side of the water in their navy blueness and the view is a gorgeous Paul Henry with seabirds.
The other wildlife is the tank of lobsters spotted by the nine-year-old as we arrived, his eyes widening like he’d just seen a very large bag of sweets. The last time he ate lobster was at The Fish Shop in Schull in West Cork, the seasonal restaurant where lobster are sold alongside scampi and chips during the summer holidays. Like his mother (who was known to ask for smoked salmon in the 70s after being introduced to it on holiday), he has happy memories of a lobster lunch. The bar lunch menu doesn’t feature any lobster, so we ask if we can go off-menu and cook one of those babies. It’ll be €35, the waitress tells us. At that price, I’ll be sharing it with the lobster-lover so off we go to the tank to choose our victim.
While we wait for him to be cooked we go outside to get a close-up look at a lobster pot, on the gravelled garden outside. It would be a superb place to eat if the wind wasn’t quite so nippy. The pot has a small net funnel that collapses behind the lobster after he’s crawled in to get the bait. Once committed to his food there’s no way out.