Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Old Convent, Co. Tipperary

It has taken me quite some time to write this blog post about a place I have many times referred to as "my favourite restaurant". There's no "in Ireland" or "for a special occasion" attached to that, although it is certainly very special. It is just a wonderful place, with heavenly food, spectacular hospitality and it is a true hidden gem.

The Old Convent is run by a lovely couple - Dermot and Christine. He takes charge of the food side of things with great talent and passion from what I've experienced, while she deals with the front of house and is a lovely, genuinely friendly and welcoming hostess. The Old Convent, unsurprisingly, was a convent and you can read more of the building's past on their excellent website. It is now a fabulous foodie getaway nestled in a very pretty, rural location in south Tipperary, with a handful of unique suites for overnight guests. I was never fortunate enough (so far at least!) to stay over in one of their charming rooms, which look truly gorgeous. Nor have I sampled one of their breakfasts which are to die for all, by all accounts, and have been described as "the best in Ireland". I have, however, been very lucky to have experienced their tasting menu on three glorious occasions. Once in summer 2011, once in summer 2012, and most recently, last month - for Valentine's 2014.

Their tasting menu is an eight-course affair, with a selection of the freshest and best local Irish ingredients that happen to be on offer that very day. All diners are seated at 8 o'clock sharp and the tasting menu is their one and only option. They have always been very accommodating towards anyone with a diet or allergy issue all the same. On my three occasions to dine at the OC I have been blown away by the combinations of carefully thought out flavours and textures - pineapple, sushi rice and crab was one course, a palate cleanser, that was utterly delicious. I had always been a little squeamish about the idea of pork belly but since tasting it there, combined with candied nuts, Tipperary blue cheese, pears, beets etc. I am a complete convert, though maybe my waistline is losing out on the other hand... oh well! Their dessert section of the meal, which normally combines a light sweet and a slightly heavier one afterwards, has been superb from my experiences. Their lemon possets/creams are delectable and help to balance a previous heavier meat course. Their chocolate offerings, what can I say?! For a confessed chocoholic, they are pure bliss! Christine has even come around mid-chocfest with extra heated, velvety, chocolaty goodness to pour over your dessert.

From the beautiful secluded setting, to the warmth of the hospitality, to the star of the show - the incredible food, The Old Convent is a real winner. I hope if it's a place that would appeal to you, that you find an occasion to go and experience something truly wonderful.

You can check out their website here.
Their address is: The Old Convent, Mount Anglesby, Clogheen, Co, Tipperary.
(Oh, and a word to the wise, bring your GPS!)

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