Wexford has a special place in my heart. For my entire life, my family has been making the journey to Fethard-on-Sea for our annual holiday. I’ve always found the people in this sunny corner of our country to be more than welcoming and the epitome of Irish charm. On our drive to our beach-side house we would pass The Ferrycarrig, with my mother always remarking how lovely the hotel was. For someone who has visited Wexford numerous times, it’s almost a crime that I have never stayed in the Ferrycarrig before.
Recently, I decided to rectify this and pay a visit to the sunny south east with fellow Team Taste member Roisín. Driving from Dublin to Wexford took just under two hours, with the time flying by in anticipation of a relaxing overnight stay.
Arriving at the hotel, we were immediately greeted with welcoming smiles from the receptionist. The lobby is bathed in bright natural light and the decor is sleek and modern without losing its charm. While we waited a brief ten minutes to check into our room, we were offered tea and coffee as we enjoyed the views from the lobby.
The hotel boasts a leisure centre with pool, sauna, steam room and gym. They also have the Riverwood Wellness spa, where you can indulge in an array of treatments designed to transport you into relaxation
Our room had a spacious balcony with panoramic views over the River Slaney and we immediately sat outside, enjoying the unexpected sunshine while we sipped a coffee.
We had dinner booked that evening in the award-winning Reeds Restaurant. Reeds have been named Best Hotel Restaurant in Wexford 2016 and 2017 and also shortlisted in the top 5 Hotel Restaurants in Leinster by the Restaurant Association of Ireland 2016 and 2017. If you’re looking for a more informal option, the hotel’s Dry Dock Bar serves food daily.
Executive Chef Tony Carty has created a menu that is much more impressive than you would expect from a hotel restaurant. There is an abundance of local provenance on the plate, with Irish produce found on all corners of the menu.
The first starter of the evening was Three Ways with Salmon. A picture perfect dish of salmon served in three different styles – Jameson Irish whiskey gravlax, hot house smoked salmon and Blackwater & elderberry tonic tartar. I enjoyed the mix of cooking styles here, each showing the competence of the chef as each was executed well. However, the smoked salmon was the definite star of the plate – a heavenly creamy mixture that I wanted to spread over toasted brioche for the entire night.
Across the table sat Spiced Slaney Valley Lamb Ravioli, a flavourful dish with cumin and fennel seed, carrot purée, Moroccan spiced butter and Pecorino cheese. The carrot purée was simply divine mixed with the spiced butter. I loved the Moroccan flavours here spicing up the lamb. The pasta was a little thick for my liking but a solid plate of food all the same. It was one of those dishes that would have been licked clean had I been alone.
For my main dish, I chose the Trio of Irish Porksteak – grilled fillet with gremolata roast jus, crispy skinned pork belly with cauliflower cream and seven-hour braised pork shoulder croquette served with onion and cumin cream.
Pork belly is one of my weaknesses, and when I spot it on any menu it will usually end up on the table before me. Here the pork was soft and tender and had such flavoursome crisp skin. The fillet, which was wrapped in bacon, was cooked well and the croquette was a delight to eat – the crispy outer shell encasing soft succulent meat inside.
For the main course, Róisín (a fish fanatic) chose the medley of House Smoked Kilmore Cod, Salmon, Scallop and Tiger Prawn served with spinach, saffron potato, ruby grapefruit and vemouth buerre blanc.
A meaty piece of salmon took centre stage on the plate, surrounded by well-cooked scallops, locally caught cod from Wexford’s Kilmore Quay and sweet prawns and a buerre blanc that complemented the fish without stealing the limelight from the fishy stars of the plate.
While I was verging on the edge of feeling too full, I just couldn’t pass up on dessert when I saw the local treats on offer. Lemon Curd and Enniscorthy Rhubarb was my sweet treat of the evening – a parfait-style slice with sweet chunks of rhubarb topped with lemon curd. Pale green dots of lush pistachio diplomat creme lined the plate, along with crumbled meringue.
For Róisín, it was a tough choice between the chocolate mousse or a trio of strawberry delights. ‘When in Rome’ as they say, and she went for the Strawberries Three Ways, it would surely be a crime to pass up the famed Wexford strawberries. The red fruit came in the form of strawberries & cream cheesecake, strawberry, mint & Prosecco jelly, and a wonderfully light strawberry pavlova.
After a quick nightcap in the Dry Dock Bar, which was surprisingly full given it was mid-week, we floated up to bed. We slept soundly in the comfortable and spacious beds and the following morning we enjoyed a buffet-style breakfast, with everything from freshly baked pastries to an Irish fry.
There is much to love about the Ferrycarrig, from the mouthwatering cuisine to unparalleled views, but what really stuck out to me was the exceptional service from the staff. From the moment we walked through the doors it felt like a home away from home. The staff were completely genuine and made us feel so welcome and for that alone, The Ferrycarrig is well worth paying a visit to.
An overnight stay with breakfast and dinner at The Ferrycarrig for two people starts from €318.
T: +353 (0)53 9120999
REVIEW BY SINÉAD SMYTH