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20 August 2008

Roadford House, Doolin, County Clare

Valerie O'Connor has a high old time in County Clare.

Ballinlacken Castle was where Frank and Marian Sheedy last worked together in the hospitality business before opening Roadford House two years ago. Marian is gracefully front of the tastefully red painted house while chef Frank works his magic in the kitchen.
The dining room is unassuming and full of windows to show off the breathtaking views of the Co. Clare. Simply decorated and furnished with walls hung of quirky paintings of local sights, the room is homely and seats between 30 and 40 people, so is intimate.

The menu has all the classics; goats cheese, Doolin Crab Stack, rack of lamb and confit of duck but the top ten listing ends there. For starters I ordered the Tempura of Monkfish with coriander, fennel coleslaw and tomato chilli jam. The plate of a stack of four fine fingers of monkfish was artfully presented with a tower of slaw and painted dressing. It tasted as good as it looked with subtle spices and sesame seeds coating the fish. The slaw lacked a little of fennel flavour but was fresh and crunchy. The starter of Chilled Wafers of Seared Beef Fillet (carpaccio) with pickled red onion, brie fritters and horseradish dressing was busy, it could have done without the cheese. The beef was soft and melting, with a bow to Asian influences from the punchy horseradish dressing.

Sadly the main of Roast Sea bass with seared scallops was sold out, it would have been my choice. Instead I chose the special of Pan-Fried Lemon Sole in a beurre blanc, this was cooked to perfection, simple and delicious with yummy almost crispy bits stuck to the edges of the bones, and I did suck the meat from them. The side vegetables were a creamy dauphinois, some baby new potatoes, carrots and greens. The Spice Crusted rack of Lamb was served with pepperonata, pea puree and basil lamb jus. Juicy and pink, the lamb was delicious and delivered its promise. The sole was the star of the show however and was fought over.

Deserts clearly showed Frank in his true colours, a pastry chef. The likes of these deserts I’ve only seen in Dublin’s L’ecrivain, but these tasted better. The Chocolate Truffle Cake served with White Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (made on site) was so good it made it impossible to open either your mouth or your eyes once a piece had passed your lips. So this was the desert to fight over. The ice cream was also unnecessary, though probably to break the pleasure and sensuality of the rich rich desert. My Strawberry Crème Brulee came with a White Chocolate and Passion Fruit Sorbet and an orange and caramel syrup. The brulee cracked reassuringly under the spoon and crunched so perfectly against the smoothness of the custard. The syrup and the sorbet with the brulee made one of the most perfect deserts I’ve ever been lucky enough to eat. Turns out Frank enjoys the deserts part of the cooking the most, and he does it so well.

The Sheedys excel in their small hostelry. Pity the rooms were booked up, I’d have loved to indulge in their breakfast.

Roadford House
Doolin Village
Phone (065) 7075050

Open all year for dinner Tuesday to Sunday 6-9.30pm
Early bird 6-6.45pm