Continued from Restaurant Review: The Old Convent – Part I.
The fifth course – a palate-cleansing Organic Lemon and Ginger Sorbet – caused arguments. The Cousins, who are identical twins, thought that the ginger was more pronounced. The rest of us were definitely on the lemon side – as the wine kept flowing, we wondered if the world is divided into lemon-tasters and ginger-tasters.
Revived by the sorbet – and the discussion – we proceeded to another substantial course of Roast Loin of Veal, served with White Bean and Potato Gratin, Roasted Beets and Squash and Limonocello Butter. I’m not a big fan of veal, finding it to be a rather anonymous meat, and, for me, this was the most pedestrian course. Having said that, it was still a good dish and didn’t go a-wasting on anyone’s plate. I was suffering from near-satiety at that stage, and there were still two more courses to go.
We were just about to get on to the sweet courses when the waitress asked if any of us would be interested in a cheese plate (at an extra €10) to round off the meal. The Ex-Planner Partner wanted one – but refused to share! – so we ordered two, one for him and one for the rest of us. And then we proceeded to wade through a sweet Mango, White Chocolate and Tahitian Vanilla Mousse (the martini glasses made a reappearance here) and the grand finale, which truly lived up to its name. A pair of dark and very sinful chocolate fondues, suspended above flames to keep molten, arrived at our table, surrounded by chunks of banana, strawberries, little almond pyramids, petite chocolate brownies, coconut choc chip cookies and raspberry tartlets. That’s when we started to wonder why we had ordered TWO cheese platters.
My attention and appetite were both fading at this stage, my scribblings completed, when Christine arrived at our table and started to tell us that her husband, chef Dermot, was relaxing online after finishing work when he came across a website that mentioned going out for dinner that very night at The Old Convent. Was there a table of six in the dining room? And was there a New Zealander at the table? We were rumbled! The fact that I had been taking (I thought) unobtrusive notes during the meal and photographing the menu may also have been a slight give away.
Our group – my companions highly amused that I had been unmasked – relaxed over the (at-that-stage unnecessary) cheese, served with thin crackers, caramelised pecans, fresh fruit and some preserves from the Trass Farm at Moorstown in Cahir (makers of our favourite Karmine Apple Juice). We made valiant attempts but just weren’t up to it. Nine courses in and we had flagged, understandably enough! After we had settled our bill there was just time to check out the Goddess powder room, an attractive hideaway for a bit of nose powdering or lipstick refreshing, and to poke our heads into the cosy drawing room before our taxi arrived on the doorstep to take us back to Clonmel.
The Old Convent was the perfect place for a relaxed evening with friends and family – no rushing, racing or trying to speed people along so that a second sitting can be accommodated – and the six of us thoroughly enjoyed our experience of fine dining, Tipperary-style. If you don’t want to run the risk of your taxi driver being too relaxed about getting there, it is also possible to stay at one of the seven recently renovated rooms upstairs. The Gannons cater for tailor-made romantic weekends and breakfasts, according to reviews, are well up to the standard of the meal that we enjoyed. A long walk in the nearby Knockmealdown Mountains may be the only antidote to this superb style of cosseting.
The Old Convent, Clogheen, Co Tipperary, 052 65565. www.theoldconvent.ie