Tankardstown – An Oasis of Calm & Culinary Finesse in the Heart of the Boyne Valley – Hotel & Restaurant Review
Driving through the ornate wrought iron gates of Tankardstown House you are immediately transported from the hum drum of every day life to an oasis of peace and tranquillity. In the car park we received the friendliest of welcomes from Bruce, the resident English Mastiff. The scenic stroll from carpark to reception is just the antidote to the drive out into the lush Meath countryside.
The main house sits resplendently on its 80 acre strong estate. An eighteenth century Manor House and Orangery with a courtyard of cottage suites. Garden Village is where the award winning Brabazon Restaurant is located, inheriting it’s name from the estates mid eighteenth century owner, Brabazon Morris. Current owner, Brian Conroy opened the doors of Tankardstown to the the public in 2006 and has elevated Tankardstown House to its current award winning, boutique hotel status.
Stepping through the huge front door to reception, a blazing open log fire warms and lights up the entire area. The beautiful receptionists in Tankardstown are some of the most hospitable we have ever met. We were guided to our room for the night, the phenomenal Library Suite. The largest pillow and cushion clad four poster bed at the heart of the room, a floor to ceiling antique bookcase filled with many types of literature. An incredible and very large marble en-suite bathroom with free standing bath, his & hers gilt washstands and double shower. An abundance of The Handmade Soap Company toiletries adorn the sinks and shower stand. A fan of this luxury Irish brand for quite a while now, little additions such as this are a real treat. Also, it is so great to see a local brand being supported as The Handmade Soap Company is based just down the road from Tankardstown House, in Slane Village.
After exploring every nook and cranny of our large, luxurious suite it was time to venture outside to lounge around the grounds and enjoy the Spring sunshine. We were so lucky with the weather for our visit, a bright and breezy day really allowed us to spend lots of time outside. The grounds are maintained and manicured to an extremely high standard. In many parts of the gardens there is a gentle hum of bees, due largely to the very considered planting. In almost every part of the grounds you can hear the very gentle babbling of the various water features. Undoubtedly a complete feeling of relaxation washes over you as you stroll the opulent landscape of Tankardstown House.
Speaking of opulent! The interiors here are absolutely incredible. What appear to be original solid wood floors, have been sanded, varnished and polished to the point that they are so reflective the sunlight pouring in through the huge sash windows is literally bouncing off of them. There are a mass of candles lighting throughout all of the rooms and hallways. Many open fireplaces are furnished with large ivory pillar candles, adding a warm glow and feeling. The soft furnishings have fallen straight out of every interior lovers dreams, fabrics and wall papers so opulent and luxurious, Designers Guild comes to mind.
Having explored the grounds and various rooms of the house we arrive at one of our favourite parts, the bar! But it’s not just any old bar, this is a fully stocked Honesty Bar where you can serve yourself and simply make a note of your drinks on the sheet provided. If you prefer not to serve yourself then you can of course request service from reception. Having worked in bars when we were younger we were both dying to get in there and practice our pint pulling and Gin muddling. A super selection of Spirits along with the obligatory Guinness on tap ensures all thirsts can be quenched here.
After an afternoon of exploring this idyllic place, we were more than ready to sit down to a leisurely dinner. Brabazon Restaurant is a short stroll from the main house through the quaint courtyard in ‘Garden Village’. As soon as we entered, the delicious scents wafting in the air were already whetting our appetite. Self described as, ‘offers diners a feast for the eyes and the palate.’ We can confirm that they over deliver on this statement.
A menu that screams seasonal, locally sourced produce reads like a dream. Janos, the award winning and very accomplished Head Chef, along with his energetic team have put together a highly intelligent and well rounded menu. We debate long and hard over our choices and finally decide to start with Pan Fried Plaice, Broccoli Purée, Almond Sponge, Squid Ink Tuille, Connemara Seaweed & Champagne Sauce €9.50. An incredibly beautiful looking plate of food that tasted insanely good. A slightly crusty outside and fabulously flaky inside piece of fish. All elements of this dish worked gloriously together. As with with our other starter on the table you are eating as much with your eyes as with your mouth. And speaking of our other starter (insert heart eye emoji here). Across the table a deliciously moreish dish of Capellini Pangritata, Confit Duck, Gruyere Sauce, Pickled Shimeji Mushrooms €9.00. Crumbling, flavour packed Duck wrapped in the most delicious slender strands of al dente Capellini topped with a sprinkling of crispy Pangritata. The balance of textures and flavours in this dish set alight by the clever addition of Pickled Shimeji Mushrooms and that unmistakable nutty, creamy, salty delight that is Gruyere Sauce. We see Duck on so many menus but not many display this level of clever creativity.
Such impressive starters always build the anticipation for the courses to follow and honestly, these mains were orgasmic. First up, Confit Pork Belly, Sauerkraut, Red Cabbage Jam, Bacon Foam, Pickled Black Mustard €19.50. Soft and supple Pork housed beneath the most sensational crackling we have ever tasted. So outrageously good that we promise ourselves at this point that Brabazon Restaurant is now on our list of absolute must return. Red Cabbage Jam & Sauerkraut provide a finely tuned play on sweet and sour flavours. Bacon Foam & Pickled Black Mustard with it’s slightly spicy, earthy notes and Bacon Foam in all its light but punchy glory make this dish pop.
7oz Beef Fillet, Potato Fondant, Mushroom Ketchup, Onion & Spinach Purée, Wild Mushroom Tortellini, Jus €29.50. A good steak is not hard to find, but an out of this world flavour bomb of a steak is. We found just that, here in Brabazon. This steak delivered flavour, tenderness and juiciness in a combination unequalled. Cooked medium, as per our request, each bite better than the last. Mushroom Ketchup & Spinach Purée acted almost as seasoning, a wealth of richness along with the little showstopper of Wild Mushroom Tortellini made this an outstanding plate of food.
It would be remiss of us not to speak about the sides, in particular the boiled new potatoes that are every carb lovers dream. Cooked just to the point of tender with nothing added but a little salted butter and chive. Sweet little cubes of roasted Pumpkin topped with Pumkin Seeds were a side dish that was demolished feverishly.
It’s no secret that desserts are one of our vices and as with the preceding courses, these seductively sinful delights tantalised every single taste bud. Our first dessert was Deconstructed Affogato Gateau, Chocolate Parfait, Coffee Mousse, Limoncello Purée €7.50. Shards of rich chocolate biscuit cake sit atop a supremely decadent Chocolate Parfait. A truly luxurious treat. Light Coffee Mousse & Limoncello Purée subtly make their mark in this wonderfully delectable dessert.
There is something so comforting about a warm dessert and none so much as a dessert with a buttery pastry base forming the perfect playground for the sweet pastry cream that is Almond Frangipane. Pear William Tart, Almond Frangipane, Amaretto Purée, Yoghurt Sorbet €7.50. The heart of this dish is in the smooth and still firm when baked Williams Pear. An abundance of well married textures, aromas and flavours all on one plate. Traditional in thought but so elegant and current in presentation.
Acinatico 2016 Valpolicella Ripasso – With Italian Reds being one of our loves, this was a very easy choice to make. Oozing with ripe fruit flavours this deep, dark ruby red drank like a dream, particularly with our main courses of Beef and Pork. If you are going to treat yourself to a nice bottle, we can highly recommend this riot of a red.
From the grounds to the lux interiors Tankardstown is the ultimate romantic getaway. A night of fine dining and a night cap in the secluded outdoor hot tub are just some of the wonderful ways to spend your time in this magnificent place. A very definite sense of calm washes over you in Tankardstown, this is due largely to the wonderful hospitality as well as the natural beauty of the surroundings.
Coming away from a break recharged and refreshed is the greatest recommendation there is and Tankardstown provides this in spades.
041 982 4621
REVIEW BY KEITH MAHON