Dining in Ireland has never been more exciting, and while the bigger cities might be home to a lot of the main players on the landscape, the rampant spread of fantastic food is countrywide. Athlone is just one place showcasing some serious culinary credentials, and they are not afraid to show it. Here are our top picks for a special dining experience in the midst of Irelands Hidden Heartlands.
For Ethnic Adventures
For over 15 years, Kin Khao has been redefining the expectations of Thai food in Ireland. With a team of qualified chefs from every region in Thailand, the menu at Kin Khao is constantly evolving to stay fresh and timely. The menu at Kin Khao offers everything from dishes originating in Thailand’s far north with strong Lao and Burmese influences, to fiery salads and curries of North East or the creamy curries made famous from South with their strong Muslim and Indian flavours. The team at Kin Khao have recently opened their second venture in the university town of Maynooth so it looks like the good fortune is spreading.
For Casual Conviviality
Dead Centre Brewing
Pizza and Beer, what’s not to like? It’s a classic combination that never goes out of style. At Dead Centre Brewing & Brew Pub you can indulge in this perfect pairing and relish the fact that the quality of each component is top notch. Housed in an eye catching copper clad building on Athlone’s Custume Pier on the banks of the River Shannon, the Brew Pub at DCB offer a full range of Wines, Gins, Soft Drinks, Teas and Coffee along with the excellent quality Craft Beer from their own brewery as well as featuring local, guest breweries. Food wise, super thin and crispy Pizzas are the main event here but fear not, there are also Loaded Fries, Nachos, Wings, Onion Rings, Oreo Sundaes and……..a Rocket Salad to choose from. Prices are reasonable and the space itself is inviting with views overlooking the water. It’s a win win.
For Something Special
Just outside Athlone in the village of Glasson you will find Wineport Lodge in an idyllic setting, nestled on the banks of Lough Ree. Dining at Wineport Lodge has always been a magical experience with views to die for and food to match. The very best of Irish produce is showcased on the menu in the best possible way. Choose from dishes such as Crisp Duck Salad with Hazelnuts, Beansprouts, Melon, Sesame Seeds, Ginger and Coriander Dressing to start and follow with classics such as Fresh Crab Linguine with Tempura Courgette, Chilli, Garlic, Lemon & Rocket. Either way, you will be spoiled for choice. My advice, end your meal with a decadent Irish Coffee while soaking in the view and thanking your lucky stars that such a haven exists.
For the Lover of Fine Food
The Fatted Calf
I first came across The Fatted Calf when they were located in Glasson, just outside Athlone, and I must admit I felt rather smug. It was like discovering a secret that I was sure no one else knew about. Happily (for Feargal and Fiona O’Donnell) this was not the case, and since those days, the restaurant has relocated to Athlone Town Centre. The food however, has remained just as good as I remember. Just reading the menu makes my heart flutter ever so slightly which is never a bad thing. Expect dishes such as Black Pudding Bon Bon’s to nibble on followed by Tempura of Long Stem Broccoli, with Basil and Pea Arancini and Smoked Almond Romanesco or John Stone Treacle Braised Beef Short Rib, Confit Onion, Horseradish Mash and Braising Juices. This is an example of modern Irish Food at its very best.
For Coffee and Cake
Shannon Crafts and Coffee Dock
You know the old adage, don’t judge a book by its cover? Well this is one of those cases. Located on Strand Street in Athlone, Shannon Crafts and Coffee Dock’s colourful exterior belies the quality of the baked goods coming out of the kitchen, which are some of the best cakes in town. Run by German native, Regina Schaub, the cakes are all homemade and that much is evident. The Black Forest Gateaux is getting rave reviews and I am more than intrigued by the Cappuccino Banana Cake. For savoury snackers there are a selection of homemade soups and sandwiches also on the menu. This is a lovely traditional spot in a sea of polished and sometimes over styled eateries.
FEATURE BY CIARA MCQUILLAN