Ballymaloe House – Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland

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Restaurant Ireland

Ballymaloe House is famous for chef Myrtle Allen's "local grub," much of which grows on-site.

We spent last weekend at the Ballymaloe House in Ireland. Everyone we met told us that it was the best restaurant in Ireland. It’s one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to anywhere. For one thing, they are a farm. Every morning, the eggs and produce were brought in from their garden and hen house. There is a renowned cooking school. The Sunday Night Buffet was one of the great meals of our lives. Roast Pork, roast bacon, ham, Turkey with stuffing, lobster pie, five kinds of mussels, two types of deviled eggs (by far the best I’ve tasted) and lots more. All their smoked fish is done right down the road (we passed the place). They made their own relish, their own mayonnaise, their own butter. Their sausages were unbelievable. I had seconds on the steak and kidney pie and I’ve never even liked it before! The roast pork had a thick crackling on it. Incredible. Each roast had its own special sauce (or sauces). Amazing soups, fabulous desserts. This Irish cooking is to English cooking what Belgian cooking is to French. It looks the same, but that’s as far as it goes.

I got to talk with Myrtle Allen (world famous) who told us, “It’s just local grub.” They now have a different (and famous) head chef, but it’s really her recipes and she oversees everything. Her cookbooks appear to have been in print at least since 1977. Her generation is the generation of Julia Child, James Beard, etc.

The closest experience we’ve had to this was the Inn At Little Washington. But this is better. Less pretentious, more creative, fresher ingredients and the castle (14th Century) is run as well, but is more lovely in every detail.

We had six meals there. The greatest food weekend of our lives.

Address: Shanagarry, Midleton, County Cork, Ireland
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