The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge

Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick
Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick

I stayed at the Echo Lodge on a business trip to Ballinvreena, Count Limerick, and an excellent choice it turned out to be.  Built as a convent in 1884 it has an old world charm which is reflected throughout, including the welcome from the owner, Dan.  There is no bar as such and on requesting a campari and soda before dinner I was seated on a large sofa in the library. The drink arrived accompanied by complimentary smoked salmon mousse with radish on crispbread.  This definitely set the standard for what was to come. The Mustard Seed menu is compact but offers a variety to cater for all tastes.  I started with a crab and nori seaweed roll in tempura batter with mango and avocado salsa which brought out all the flavours. This was followed by a leek and potato soup.  The soup was a puree and had a delicious hint of lovage.  As a main course I indulged in a pan fried breast of guinea fowl with foie gras.  This was accompanied by garden greens (they have their own kitchen garden) a truffle and shallot velouté  and crispy sweet potato.  This was washed down with a half bottle of an excellent Pinot Grigio. The wine list leaves nothing to be desired either.  To complete this delightful meal they served a crème brûlée that was to die for.  I was listening to a party of Americans discuss whether or not to try it and my recommendation not to hesitate reaped an avid response.  As often happens in such a congenial atmosphere we got talking over a bowl or two of Armagnac and thus concluded the best meal I have had this year. With a price tag of €63 for dinner, plus €17 for wine, it cannot be said to be expensive, in fact I have had far poorer meals with double the price tag.  A word of caution, do not expect early an breakfast.  The chef starts at 8 am.  Of course this is worth waiting for as well!

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