Between Little Missy, my work as a freelance journalist and the Husband setting up his own business, it’s not so easy to get away these days. As a result, any time we do head off, there’s as much food packed into the time as possible.
Last weekend we waved Little Missy off on her holidays to Nana and Grandad’s house just before Saturday lunchtime. All free and easy then (it’s amazing how easy it is to pack for just two instead of two + a small one), we threw bag and baggage into the car and hit off to Limerick in time to have a quick look at the newly covered Milk Market, grab a bag of Pónaire coffee and fly past the The Green Apron‘s stall to buy some of her get-out-of-the-bed-to-eat-it-by-the-spoonful raspberry chocolate conserve (as tasted on the Food Blogger Country Outing), a jar of wholegrain whiskey mustard and some yummy onion confit.
A light lunch was had at one of my favourite Limerick spots, the Sage Café. Light for me was a starter-sized portion of well dressed caesar salad but in the Husband’s case was a large bowlful of creamy pasta. So much for leaving room for dinner! We moved on to Lisdoonvarna and checked into the cheap and cheerful Sleepzone: The Burren hostel. As a freelance journalist, my pockets are never weighed down by cash and I’m more in favour of spending money on food than accomodation on weekends away, especially when we’ll be only in the room for a night’s sleep. This hostel was formerly a three star hotel called the Carrigann so all rooms are en suite, if basic (make sure to pack your own towel) but, at pocket-friendly prices – €50 for a double for the night – is definitely to be reccommended. Also, as you’ll be surrounded by dozens of foreign students and travellers while you’re there, it’s a great way of feeling like you’re having a weekend abroad while still in Ireland.
After a quick run into the Burren Smokehouse for some smoked spiced mackerel and oatcakes – a potential breakfast, especially with some St Tola organic cream cheese – it was time to settle down in the Roadside Tavern to maximise our child-free status and relax over some pints and the paper.
All chilled out, it was then time for the main point of the night away – and only reason that we were in Lisdoonvarna: a stroll up the road to the Wild Honey Inn for dinner. With the Husband not being entirely starving – large lunch plus a couple of pints put paid to that – we shared a starter of Liscannor Crab Claws in a spicy chilli butter sauce to start, before getting stuck into plates of roasted monkfish and neck fillet of lamb from the specials board. My fish was superbly cooked, and came with a bright yellow carrot purée, a contrasting mound of spinach with a chicken wing confit on the side. All the flavours worked beautifully together but the dish was far eclipsed by the Husband’s lamb, which was spicy, sticky and savoury and almost disappeared before I could claim my share. For desert we shared another choice from the specials: a bowl of poached cherries, that came with a rich vanilla ice cream and a fragile chocolate crisp. The only bone of contention was the background music: soft rock is definitely not my listening choice although the Husband was happy and, when I mentioned it to the helpful barman, he said that they got as many compliments for it as complaints.
Music aside, and it’s very much an aside, this was a first class meal that was definitely worth travelling for and, judging by the amount of cars outside and constant stream of customers, many do. And, if you’re not within driving distance, there’s a handy – and very quiet, despite the crowds staying there – hostel well within stumbling distance. I’ll be back.
Useful addresses in Limerick and Lisdoonvarna
The Milk Market, Limerick: www.milkmarketlimerick.ie
Pónaire Milk Market Roastery and Coffee Bar: www.ponaire.ie
The Green Apron, the Milk Market, Saturday mornings: www.thegreenapron.ie
The Sage Café: www.thesagecafe.com
Sleepzone: The Burren: www.sleepzone.ie
Burren Smokehouse: www.burrensmokehouse.ie
Wild Honey Inn: www.wildhoneyinn.com