Perfectly and conveniently situated an hour from Dublin and Belfast is the quaint, medieval town of Carlingford, which is nestled along the Irish Sea with little pubs, shops and photogenic sights.
I visited Carlingford, courtesy of Fáilte Ireland, with a group of 14 other bloggers who had all attended TBEX. I originally had signed up for this particular trip because of its stop at Newgrange, a Neolithic passage tomb, but what I didn’t expect was to have the opportunity to eat such an amazing meal at the Ghan House, and it being the highlight of my day.
The Ghan House is a spectacular 18th century Georgian house, restored and family owned and operated. With 12 bedrooms, 4 star accommodations, a restaurant which was awarded 2 AA rosettes and amenities such as a cozy bar, extensive wine list, log fires, private gardens and an extremely friendly and welcoming staff.
We entered the large, upstairs dining room and found a linen-covered table perfectly set and anxiously awaiting our hungry stomaches. (However, anyone who attended TBEX would know we were nowhere near starving after all the glorious food we had consumed prior to our day trips!) The dining room, which seats 34 people comfortably, has amazing windows that overlook the gardens and Irish Sea. Delicious warm bread baskets were delivered to us, accompanied by the oh-so-delicious creamy Irish butter I’ve come to love during my visits to Ireland. Some of us had water, others wine or coffee, and we all stared at the menu not knowing what we should pick.
Everything looked scrumptious.
Starters were served, and some plates such as the duck looked as if they could have been entrees; the ingredients were fresh (vegetables are grown in their private gardens), plating was inventive and everyone was silent!
To me, silence is the true test of how great a dish is….
During our lunch (which lasted a couple of hours), we heard about the history of the house and had the opportunity to look around some of the empty rooms between courses. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a family owned and operated restaurant, but listening to owner Paul Carroll speak about his family and the roles they play in the business, really made the experience that more special. Paul told us how his mom, Joyce Carroll, was the head chef at once, and how she still has her hands in the business with cooking classes and assembling the flower arrangements throughout the house. I also have much respect for Paul, as I know how extremely hard and frustrating it can be to successfully run a family owned business with your parents… but that’s a whole different post!
Overall, you really get the sense of comfort and family, which resonates throughout the Ghan House, seeping out of every nook and corner.
Entrees were served, and I was impressed on the amount of food we were basking in. Everyone was in awe as their choices were placed in front of them; it was comforting to see an entire room full of bloggers quickly reaching for their cameras, eager to get the perfect shot of the gorgeous plates. After all, I’m used to friends back home making comments about my food photos being unnecessary, which is just another reason why traveling with bloggers is a great experience. Steak, fish and lamb seemed to be the go-to-dishes; some devoured every drop while others shared with their neighbor. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a neighbor that wanted to share, otherwise I would have gladly tried another dish. I chose the steak, and I can proudly say I annihilated the entire slab of beef, with room for dessert! (Certainly it was a good idea I didn’t share, now that I think about it!)
Our meal was finished with coffee, tea and some amazing desserts. Generally, I’m not much of a dessert person, I pride myself in enjoying savory over sweet, but this was too good to pass up!
Creme Brûlée should always have a thick, near un-crackable sugary crust, and this one definitely passed the test!
If you are looking for a day trip or even a weekend city break from Dublin, I would highly suggest checking out the Ghan House. The restaurant is open for walk-ins, so overnight accommodation is not needed to indulge in their tasty recipes, which include their in-house ice creams, breads, jams and more. Overnight rates are as low as 99 Euro a night per person, and 6 course midweek tasting menus start at 29.50 Euro a person. Rooms, should you stay, boast views of their private gardens and pond, or views of the Irish Sea located across the way.
It’s easy to say that the road to my heart is paved in food; I’m pretty sure if you look at my heart’s path close enough, you’ll find traces of the Ghan House’s crab cakes along the way….
A HUGE thanks to TBEX, the wonderful staff at Ghan House and Fáilte Ireland for hosting our day. All opinions, like always, are my own.