Sundays are the ideal day for a foodie treat, it’s one of the best reasons to leave the house or spend the entire day slowly pottering in a warm kitchen. Winter Sundays where the rain streams down the window panes like steam droplets on the shower door, are perfectly formed for comfort food that leaves you barely able to move. The Wineport Lodge in Glasson, Co. Westmeath may just be the Utopian location for such an indulgence.
The lakeside location is stunning in summer, but there is something hauntingly beautiful about the off-season view; deserted by all boats, grey and forbidding as far as the eye can see. It contrasts perfectly with the open fires and dark woods that welcome you in from the cold and wet outside.
But this is a destination that is all about the food.
Greeted with the freshest of breads, served with a real butter (anything else gets docked major points in my book) we peruse the drinks’ menu, which is a great indication of the attention to detail that is a hallmark of this midland location. There are cocktails, including an impressive list of low alcohol and virgin cocktails. I was tempted by a Martini but my love of wine and food, swung me towards a cool, crisp Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and seafood combination. Coupled with the comprehensive wine list, there is also a welcome craft beer selection, something sure to gain a smile from other half, who opted for an Irish Pale Ale, brewed in Co. Donegal.
Drinks out of the way, it was time for our food selections. To start, I went for a prawn cocktail; Sunday lunch is the perfect time for a little bit of retro! And for my dining companion, a wild mushroom soup. The presentation of the prawns disappointed me a little but the taste more than compensated. The prawns were light and fresh and the all important Marie Rose, perfectly balanced – creamy and just a little tangy. The soup was pleasing, allowing the mushrooms to take centre stage, retaining a little texture, but to my taste slightly under seasoned.
Mains were pretty traditional Sunday lunch fare; beef, chicken, salmon, cod and a butternut squash risotto. For him, the vote went to a chicken dish with champ potato, black kale and a bourguignon sauce. A meal so tasty it was devoured, with the silence only interrupted periodically by appreciative grunts.
I again chose sea over land, mostly as we were sitting right on the water’s edge, with the angry but mesmerising lake demanding my attention. I went for a cod dish, an unusual choice for me, because I loved the sound of the chorizo and orzo accompaniment and because I was determined to have room for dessert. The cod was plump and generous and the bed of short pasta and Spanish sausage was indeed a perfect partner, something that I really want to try at home.
And then for something sweet, a course that both my dining partner and myself often forego. I, slightly reluctantly, decided on a black cherry creme brulee. I LOVE creme brulee, but the need to dress up perfect simplicity with fruits and coulis, really irks me. When it is good, it needs no accompaniment except a buttery shortcrust cookie. That is an opinion I still stand over, but credit where it is due, what arrived was still a stunning dessert. The shortbread rivalling the perfect custard for centre stage. And then the chocolate brownie sundae, complete with its 5 million calories, was heaven in a bowl. Sweet and textured but not too rich. Two espressos later and we shuffled to the car to travel the short distance home before dissolving into a happy food coma.
A great Sunday lunch experience. If you are ever in the area, I would definitely recommend The Wineport Lodge, on the shore of Lough Ree, and within striking distance of Athlone town.