The Old Convent – Clogheen
Photo by Joleen Cronin
I rarely write about restaurants, as I’m more focused on making my own recipes of course, but for our birthday dinner me and my partner went up to The Old Convent in Clogheen, Tipperary, and it was just so fabulous that I simply had to share it with you all.
We had heard some really good things about the restaurant and had driven past it a few times already but hadn’t gotten a chance to go try it out yet, until now. What surprised me the most was that I read on their website that their menu changes daily, so you won’t actually know what you’ll be eating until the moment you arrive. We arrived very eager to find out what our menu would be and were absolutely delighted with the place right off the bat. The location is absolutely stunning, it’s set in a very small town near The Vee, a place we both love quite a lot and where we once nearly bought a house too. The building dates back to 1885, when it was constructed for the Sisters of Mercy, they subsequently sold the building in 1991. In 2005 then it was bought by the current owners, who had “a vision to create a space where guests could relax and rejuvenate, while enjoying great food and the beautiful Tipperary countryside.”
The Old Convent as we know it now, was born in July of 2006. Owners Dermot and Christine Gannon: “The daily changing tasting menu was key to fulfil our goal of using the freshest Irish artisan ingredients, served in the beautiful Chapel Dining Room.”
We opted for the 8 course Irish Artisan Tasting Menu, which is made up of 2 small appetisers, a fish main course, a sorbet to cleanse the palate, a meat course, 2 desserts and coffee/tea with a small treat, all for € 65/per person (note it’s going up from October to €75 due to increasing costs of ingredients, energy and so on). I was always a bit worried about going to x-course places, as I always feared I would get such small plates I’d still end up being hungry. Thankfully, this was not the case at all in The Old Convent – really not the case! So let’s go over our menu, apologies for the quality of some photos – I really wasn’t planning on using them at all, apart from showing to friends and family, which is why I didn’t pay too much attention while taking them.
Our appetisers were:
– Black truffle whipped Macroom ricotta, summer beets, highbank apple syrup, salted pistachios and garlic toast
– Tomato & squash veloute, cheddar bun
The first one up was an absolute match made in heaven. Who knew something as simple as garlic toast could taste so amazing? Not to mention the combination of all those lovely flavours in the cup, perfectly whipped flavourful ricotta, with beets (something I love eating) and a delicious sauce at the base of it all: we knew right away we were in for an absolute treat that night.
Next up was a little bowl of warm tomato & squash velouté, again accompanied by a lovely little baked good, this time a cheddar bun: perfect for dipping! The soup itself was very tasty and perfectly sized.
Moving on to our first main course then: Hot smoked hake, white bean & chervil puree, spiced sunchoke. No idea what sunchoke is? Either did we, but turns out it’s Jerusalem Artichoke. I was really delighted that the mains were split up in a fish and meat course, both very decently sized by the way. I was a bit worried about the smoked flavour as it can be a bit intense, but it was perfectly balanced in this meal. The puree was delicious & creamy and my god the sunchoke was pine!
Right after the fish course we were served Green apple sorbet, melon & ginger, black sesame. A lovely palate cleanser, but unfortunately for me ginger & coriander both taste like soap to me, so if I had to pick one course that was my least favourite, I would have to pick this only, simple cause my DNA got in the way of me liking it. All the other ingredients were spot on though, very refreshing, very light. Unfortunately this is where the light started changing outside so my photos started to get less than impressive.
After this little treat came something I had been looking forward to the second I saw it on the menu: Confit peppered duck breast, mushroom puff pastry, rosemary roasted potato, sherry vinegar jus. Both me and my partner love a good duck and this was, hands down, the best duck we had ever had anywhere! Flavourful, juicy duck, yet a crispy skin on top: I’m just getting hungry thinking back on it. My only negative point for this would be that I would have loved a bit of extra jus, but only cause it was just so delicious I could have eaten a whole bowl of it. The potato (hidden under the puff pastry in the photo) was again the perfect little side ingredient. The mushroom puff pastry had a bit too much thick dough for our liking but it didn’t bother us one bit as we were in absolute seventh heaven over the duck. In terms of picking a favourite course it’s nearly impossible, but this one would for sure be up high along with our first starter.
With our mains over and done with (and us still drooling over the fantastic duck we had) came our last courses of the evening: two desserts and coffee/tea with a little treat. The first dessert was Yoghurt & cardamom cream, citrus curd, strawberries, meringue. The second one Ocoa dark chocolate pudding, salted caramel, Glenilen crème fraiche. Our coffee/tea was served with passion fruit marshmallow.
Both desserts were quite opposites of each other. One being very light, the other being maybe a bit too heavy to end on (I still ate it all though, cause it was just so tasty!). That being said, I had eaten many chocolate lava cakes/puddings before (in Belgium, France, but also homemade ones) and I had the bar set quite high. It was the first time I ever had it with such strongly flavoured dark chocolate though, and I usually prefer sweeter flavours but that’s of course up to personal taste, it was still a great chocolate dessert.
The marshmallows were again a little treat of flavour, and again a big surprise as neither of us expected something as ‘basic’ as a marshmallow to be turned into something so delicious.
And that concluded our fantastic evening in The Old Convent in Clogheen, beyond a shadow of a doubt the best food either of us had ever had in our lives, and a place we will now visit on our birthdays every year (and even for our Christmas treat as well). We also read they serve breakfast as well, and seeing how good the dinner was, we can not wait to go up there one morning to try the breakfast as well. For those coming from further away: it is also possible to book rooms in the convent, but what they are like I cannot say.
For more info about The Old Convent, please visit www.theoldconvent.ie. One thing to note is that the dinner is served in one serving, at 8 o’clock, and I think booking is an absolute must as the room was full on the evening we were there, with limited seating as well (which I prefer as it made it very cosy as well). There are also other options apart from the tasting menu, including a vegetarian version, but for more on that I refer you to their website. If you ever visit this lovely place, please do let me know what was on your menu of the night and how your evening went!