Nestled in the tiny olde-worlde hamlet of Adare, The Blue Door Restaurant is a quaint little eatery with, as its name would suggest, a blue door peeking out from under its heavy thatch brows.

Just 20 minutes from Limerick, the ivyclad thatched cottage restaurant is quite beautiful indeed: window boxes overflow with summer blooms and the courtyard is surrounded by brightly-coloured carnations.

On the balmy evening we visited, we were seated outside at an oilcloth-covered picnic table among tourists enjoying the surprise of an al fresco meal in Ireland.

Perusing the short menu, we encountered familiar – very familiar – Irish fare, with the usual fixtures of salmon, steak and spinach and ricotta for vegetarians.

Our starters, however, were better than expected: my trio of goat’s cheese parcels was a straightforward but well executed dish (€6.45). The delicate filo pastry held up well against the soft, deliciously gooey St Tola cheese centre. Lamb’s lettuce and cranberry jus added a welcome freshness and tart tang to the subdued flavours.

My companion’s deep-fried king prawns were generously portioned, the large prawns swathed in cocoons of crisp kataifipastry, uncomplicated by a simple salad and basil aioli (€7.45).

The staff – largely a contingent of capable and friendly young women – deftly worked around the tight spaces of this busy cottage.

My fillet of Kenmare salmon (€21.45) with spinach was presented with little fanfare but its simplicity was its attraction – little to fuss over with the dusky pink flesh flaking gently beneath my fork. The accompanying béarnaise was heavily salted, but our wine choice of a dry, citrusy Pinot Grigio (€26) proved a formidable accompaniment.

My dining partner’s grilled Connacht lamb with couscous (€24) had a deliciously charred flavour, reminiscent of summer barbecues. The abundance of watercress was a touch odd, but it was the colourful ratatouille that added much-needed moisture to the somewhat overcooked lamb.

The real triumph was the superb side dish: our sautéed potatoes and field mushrooms (€2.95) were comfort in a bowl, the rich colours the pan imparted hinting at the evocative and earthy flavours within.

My dessert (€6.95) of sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream proved to be a satisfying square of perfectly moist pudding bathed in a pool of sweet toffee. Tasting my companion’s chocolate brownie, however, I found it erred on the bitter side of the chocolate argument, even veering to burnt at the edges.

Enjoying a coffee, watching the sun come down over the pretty village, we were brought somewhat back to earth with the bill. The food was nice, but the prices – while not exorbitant – did seem a little steep. Visit certainly, dip into village life and enjoy an evening of times gone by, but do be prepared to pay for it.

RACHAEL KEALY

We loved the outside seating and picturesque setting

We spent €108 on starters, mains, dessert, wine and coffee

The Blue Door Restaurant
Adare,
Limerick.
Tel: +353 (0) 613 96481;
www.bluedooradare.com