Hidden Ireland: The Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore
Tucked away in a quiet corner of West Waterford is Ardmore. A seductive, sleepy seaside town, more of a village really, with a long beautiful strand and a hotel perched atop it. Overlooking the whole scene is Ardmore’s round tower, built sometime around the 10th – 12th century. One theory is that they were used to watch the coastline so that when any invaders aproached the locals would hide within.
I however, have no intention of hiding in a round tower. If you want to find me in Ardmore, I will be hiding and indulging in the Cliff House Hotel. Hugging a cliff edge with a sweeping terrace overlooking the sea, the food options are terrific, offering michelin starred dining or great bar food. We popped over for lunch and gave it a whirl.
The menu reads beautifully and simply, featuring lots of Irish and local produce. Local organic smoked salmon, monkfish from nearby fishing village Helvick, soda bread, Dingle crab and one of my favourite desserts, rhubarb fool. We opted for a couple of things each, in truth one would do, but we wanted to try too many things.
My sister started with the Organic Smoked Salmon with Egg Salad and croutons, and I the Potted Helvick Monkfish with Horseradish Mayonnaise and Spelt Bread. The Smoked Salmon dish was lovely and well balanced, with the creamy egg countering the smoked salmon nicely. My potted monkfish was presented beautifully in a kilner jar with scallions on top and a light nice selection of leaves on the side. Overall, very good, although I couldn’t detect much horseradish sadly. Ironic as it was my sisters preferred choice, but she doesn’t like horseradish, and I meanwhile was covetting her salmon.
We moved on to our next dish Caesar Salad “The Cliff” with Chicken for Nodlaig and Dingle Bay Crab on brown soda bread for me. The Caesar Salad was as good an execution of this dish as I have ever sampled and it was excellent. My crab was fresh, generous and light with a perfectly complementary dressing, and the rich brown soda was great with it.
The menu features several wines by the glass and I had a lovely glass of Macon Vineuse 2008 from Oliver Merlin in Burgundy for €10 a glass. The food was all between €10 & €12, there are more expensive and substantial options like rack of lamb for 28.50 and whole sea bass for €26.50.
The bar is lovely, the service friendly, and the view is sensational. If we had better weather, we just couldn’t keep people away from Ireland but our notorious rain might hamper this. We were blessed with sunshine on our visit and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. I plan to go back to try the restaurant where Martijn Kajuiter leads in the kitchen. Previously of Restaurant Kwekerj de Kas, one of my favourite Dutch restaurants, it promises to be inspiring, but we will have to wait to see. I plan to stay there, and tear myself away from my every day reality. I have promised myself that it will be very soon.
The Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore