Contrary to popular belief, fine dining is designed to be a fun, creative experience. Not a series of dishes designed to be eaten in silence with pinky fingers held high and starched linens left clean. Showing that fine dining can be fun, executive Chef Jonathan Keane has played around with the kitsch foods of old to create a dynamic new Winter menu at The Lodge at Ashford Castle, co. Galway.
The menu reads like a touchstone of 70s and 80s retro dishes, with everything from lobster and prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce, scotch eggs, beef Wellington to baked Alaska.
Anyone whose hair is still suffering from the ill effects of a perm will be old enough to remember that era didn't contain that many vegetarian dishes, luckily chef Keane saw fit to create some plant-based options. Including a vegan risotto duxelles served with wild mushroom, sea truffle and mushroom ketchup and a vegan garden moussaka featuring a ragout of vegetables, lentil bolognese and tapenade.
A new wine list has been drawn up, with an emphasis on organic, biodynamically grown and low-intervention wines, including a selection of wines from Bouchard Finlayson winery in South Africa, Domaine Vincent Girardin in France, Dog Point Vineyard in New Zealand and Domaine Bousquet in Argentina.
Speaking at the launch of the new menu, chef Keane said, "over the past few months we took the time to reinvigorate the menus for our fine dining restaurant Wilde’s, with a big focus on the classics. Our latest recipes are inspired by traditional dishes such as the scotch egg, salmon gravadlax and baked Alaska that were a common sight on menus in the 70s and 80s, which we have given a contemporary and creative twist.
"Our new winter menu is a veritable calling card for some of the best food producers in Ireland including Andarl Farm, Velvet Cloud, St Tola Goats Cheese and Cuinneog Farmhouse. Paired with ingredients sourced locally or grown and foraged on the Ashford Estate, our dishes are filled with the flavours of the West and our philosophy is simple: only use the best ingredients, don’t overcomplicate the dish and cook with passion," he added.