Eating Out Rest of the World

Review: House at the Cliff House Hotel

9th November 2015
Ireland Holiday 2015

You know when you’re really looking forward to something, everything you’ve seen and read backs up the fact you think you’re going to have a fantastic evening and then the actual experience is so odd that you end up being confused and underwhelmed? Well thats how our evening at House went.

House is the Michelin Starred Restaurant within the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore Ireland. The setting was lovely, with a table in from of the windows watching the sun go down in a cosy, but busy and bustling dining room. The staff couldn’t have been better and the atmosphere was relaxed.

We started off really well. The menus sounded fantastic, with interesting combinations and unusual ingredients. Bread arrived which was some of the best I’ve had recently, the sticky honey bread and seaweed brioche the standouts alongside whipped salted butter.


Then the canapés were served – a delicious Onion Soubise and Beetroot Macaron with Goats Cheese. If we’d have stopped there I would have declared the night a resounding success. But we didn’t. The other snacks were something made entirely of broccoli in different forms. Clever, but it  was cold and grainy, and then a fake pebble which was infact a potato topped with a pea purée. It was a bit bland and I didn’t really get it.




We were opting for the 3 course menu at 75 euro pp, but a taster menu was also an option.

For my starter I chose Scallop: Seared, Ceviche, Corn, Sea Spinach, Black Garlic, Red Pepperberries, Dutch Salad, Irish Caviar. 

This came on two separate plates. The flavours in the seared scallop plate were delicious and the ceviche on the separate plate light and delicate. But here’s where it’s odd, both plates would have worked as individual starters really well, but there were so many elements and flavours that it all got a bit lost and confusing for me.



The same was to be said of Lee’s starter. On paper, it sounds exciting and delicious. Pigeon: Breat, Leg , Foie Gras, Garden Beetroot, Girolles, Nasturtium, Blueberries, Black Rice, Pigeon Jus. Again it arrived in two parts with elaborate plates (one was a porcelain tree trunk) with so much going on that I felt I was Alice in Wonderland and had disappeared down the rabbit hole. Lee liked the flavours, particularly of the pigeon which was perfectly cooked and the foie gras, but again it could have easily been two starters rather than one and just left him bit overwhelmed!




For his main course Lee chose the Veal: Striploin, Stuffed and Oven Roated, Gnocchi, Green Asparagus, Sweetbreads, Thyme, Veal Jus. In this dish he very much enjoyed the gnocchi and the sweetbread but found the meat tough. There was a bit less going on which was good, and it was a decent main, but not memorable.


I decided on the Lamb: Rack & Striploin, Persillade, Pattison, Confit Garlic, Golden Carrot, Broadbeans, Goats Milk, Lamb Jus.  Inkeeping with Lee’s main this was a gigantic plate of food. On the plus sides my rack was beautiful, but the striploin was stuffed with something that I really didn’t like and also bled all over the plate so can’t have been well rested. The little carrot was an intricate work of art but the  pattison (which seemed like a tiny hollowed out squash) that was stuffed with saffron potatoes and olive petals I don’t think was needed and seemed out of place.


So far, the food had interesting flavours and some excellent bits of cooking (there was no doubt the chef knew what he was doing) but was in our opinions over complicated and trying too hard.

A crossover morsel was served next – Carrot Sorbet with Green Tea Foam. Loved the carrot – absolutely beautiful, disliked the foam, which was more like a sauce.


Moving on to the puddings. And what came next seemed like we had been transported back to the new nouvelle cuisine of the 80’s.

Peach: Poached and Roasted, Semi Dried, Sorbet, Meringue, Creme Caramel, Red Wine Pistachio. The meringue was chewy, peach remained quite hard and required some effort to cut it up with my spoon and the creme caramel was split.


Lee’s dessert was White Chocolate: Sphere, Raspberry Sorbet, Raw, Dried, Garden Basil, Blackwater Gin and Tonic Gel. The white chocolate didn’t snap well and seemed not well tempered and Lee found all the elements a bit too sharp, although he like the gin and tonic gel.


It pains me to write words that to some may seem harsh, but it’s important I’m 100% honest as always, and although we didn’t come away from this meal upset that we didn’t enjoy it, we felt more confused that they were trying too hard and going over the top which masked and detracted from some really good bits of cooking.

We adored the hotel as a whole, but would be careful about dining there again, especially at those prices.

Disclosure: Paid in Full

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No Comments

  • Reply Rosana @ Hot&CHilli Food and Travel Blog 9th November 2015 at 16:28

    I never had a savoury Macaron, the Beetroot Macaron with Goats Cheese sounds good. Strange that courses came in two different plates per person. It think sometimes restaurants try to hard to be too special, when in reality, less is more. R

  • Reply Sarah Trivuncic, Maison Cupcake 9th November 2015 at 18:00

    What incredible efforts they’ve made with presentation… although I agree it might prove a distraction. I’m reminded of the Coco Chanel quote about removing the last thing you put on before leaving the house!

  • Reply choclette 9th November 2015 at 18:08

    Oh what a shame. I’ve actually heard of this place and had heard it was good. But it sounds as though they are trying too hard to be different rather than on the quality of the dining experience – hey ho!

  • Reply Ceri @Natural Kitchen Adventures 9th November 2015 at 19:33

    The plates do look beautifully presented, but style over substance is a phrase that can spring to mind (even if the substance still tastes good). I guess its good to try somewhere knew and also I’m sure constructive feedback like this is well appreciated.

  • Reply Emma | Fork & Good 11th November 2015 at 13:01

    The pictures look beautiful but I can see why you would feel overwhelmed at all the flavours, I felt confused just reading it. I have to say that carrot sorbet had me intrigued, was it sweet?

    • Reply the foodie couple 11th November 2015 at 13:22

      it was sweet – completely challenging the sweet savoury thing! very refreshing though.

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