Dublin restaurant moves to Slane Castle for two months

Allta Summer House will serve a €95 no-choice menu in a tent structure overlooking the Boyne

The location of Allta’s summer house dining experience on the grounds of Slane Castle in Co Meath

The location of Allta’s summer house dining experience on the grounds of Slane Castle in Co Meath

 

Allta, the Dublin city centre wine bar and restaurant, is relocating to the grounds of Slane Castle in Co Meath for an outdoor Summer House dining experience that will run Thursdays to Sundays throughout the summer, beginning on Saturday, June 26th.

Tickets, €95, go on sale at noon today for the multi-course dinners that will be cooked entirely over fire and served in a purpose built structure with a tented roof, opening onto the river Boyne. The location is the estate’s Boat House Field, formerly used for backstage hospitality for artists performing at the castle during music events.

“It’s more of an event than just a dinner,” says Allta head chef and co-owner Niall Davidson. “People are more than welcome to come before [their reservation] and stay for the day. I really want people to see it as a kind of a day out.”

Some overnight accommodation will be available in Slane Castle, as well as glamping in the yurts at Rock Farm on the estate. Discounted rates for taxis have also been negotiated, with codes available on the event’s website, alltasummerhouse.ie, which will also list the available accommodation options.

The launch menu features seven snacks, two main courses, three side dishes and a dessert. The snacks are composed dishes in the style of the restaurant - “lobster, crème fraîche, green strawberry” and “Jersey halloumi, artichoke, broad beans”, for example, while the main courses are to be shared, family-style. The launch menu main courses are whole roasted turbot, and Tamworth pork with fermented pepper. Side dishes are “Hispi, apple ice wine”, and “Baby Gem, spider crab”. Dessert is “brioche feuilletée, goat’s milk ice, whipped honey, strawberry”.

Niall Davidson and Lucio Diez at Rock Farm Slane. Pork from Tamworth pigs will feature on the launch menu for Allta Summer House.
Niall Davidson and Lucio Diez at Rock Farm Slane. Pork from Tamworth pigs will feature on the launch menu for Allta Summer House.

Up to 45 diners will be accommodated at a time, in parties of between four and six, and each sitting will last for two hours and 20 minutes. However diners will be able to have pre- and post-dinner drinks without time restrictions.

“I want the food to be super tasty, really summery, but it will always have a main course fish and a main course meat. We are trying to source as much as possible from the Boyne Valley. The menu will change a lot, maybe weekly,” Davidson says. All of the cooking will be done over fire.

The Summer House structure will be lit and heated and have a bar and a fire pit. Nine wooden tables, each seating between four and six guests, have been built by sound system creator and bespoke furniture maker Toby Hatchett, and wildflower installations will be a feature of the design. To access the Summer House, guests will have to walk five minutes through woodland from the castle car park. “High heels are definitely not advised,” Davidson says.

Reservations for less than four diners will not be possible - “mainly because the tables have been built to accommodate between four and six” - and the chef and restaurateur says he hopes that the initiative will appeal to groups of friends, and families.

The project is an alternative to offering outside dining at the Allta premises in Dublin city centre, which will reopen in August. “Outside Allta we have a bit of space for outdoor dining, but not enough. I am a firm believer in trying to just keep people in jobs, all the time. If we were to do the outdoor dining we just wouldn’t enough revenue to keep my full team employed,” Davidson says. “There might be an overlap between this finishing and Allta reopening,” he adds.

The restaurant sold more than 10,000 dine-at-home meal kits during successive lockdowns and initiated a Saturday bakery pop-up. “We pretty much invested everything back into the business and back into the people that work with us. We couldn’t be in a better situation to do this, as a restaurant, as a team, and financially, and I just thought it could be a really exciting thing to do.”

Davidson also hopes to open an events space and dining venue on the upper floors of the Trinity Street car park in Dublin 2, and is hoping for a response to a planning application from Dublin City Council next month.

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