Meal Ticket: The Lemon Tree, Letterkenny, Donegal

An elegant yet unfussy dining room on the lower end of Letterkenny’s Main Street

   
This article is over 4 years old

The Lemon Tree

There’s an elegant yet unfussy dining room on the lower end of Letterkenny’s Main Street, out of which a brood of siblings bring sophisticated suppers to their clientele in a most welcoming and natural way.

The Molloy family is at the helm of this restaurant and has been for 15 years. Brothers Christopher, Gary and Thomas work alongside each other as chefs in the kitchen, while their sisters Linda and Trudy work the front-of-house.

They like to show off some of Donegal’s great produce, such as the organic turf-smoked salmon from Haven Smokehouse, fish from Killybegs, craft beer from Donegal Brewing Company, and, of course, they cook with Donegal rapeseed oil.

We visit for the early evening menu, which runs every day from 5pm to 6.45pm, and will get you a starter and a main course for €16.50 (later on in the evening, the a la carte main courses range from between €16 and €24). A Cajun-spiced crispy-skinned salmon fillet sounded a little dated on the menu but arrived served on an array of pristinely sliced vegetables; pretty slivers of carrots and radishes giving the plate colour, texture and nowness. A lemon butter sauce was indulgently rich. Crispy, battered fish and chips dish was down to earth but still above average, accompanied by a bowl of garden peas and house-made tartar sauce. My only complaint was a purely aesthetic one; the golden, hand cut chips were served in one of those mini deep fat fryer-style baskets which I think we all agree restaurants should pack away somewhere and forget about, forever.

The Lemon Tree’s new summer menu features blow-torched mackerel, crispy quail egg and pickles, and Donegal-grown carrots confit in curry flavoured Donegal rape seed oil, carrot top pesto, spiced carrot jam and buttermilk. Now those sound like dishes worth travelling for.