There are plenty of lovely wee spots around Lough Derg. Killaloe, Mountshannon and Terryglass can all charm and disarm in their own distinct ways. Garrykennedy, near Nenagh, is an example of one of this lake’s lesser spotted gems.

Nestled away down the kind of narrowing, winding lane where arching trees form occasional canopy tunnels, Larkins is blessed with staggered moorings, forest walks and a wood-chip playground, all at the end of its quiet cul-de-sac. The building itself is as John Hinde as a thatch cottage can be. Inside, Larkins is warm and friendly, with dining options in both the pub and restaurant proper.

For starters, we chose baked brie with tangy orange and raspberry sauce (€7.50), and Silverhill duck spring rolls with a sweet chilli dip (€6.75). The brie was exceptional: crumbly at its core with a gooey, fondue texture closer to the surface. It certainly hit the spot without ever falling apart messily. Duck rolls were also well constructed, with succulent meaty strips off-set aptly by the flaky casing and sweet chilli. For both, the side salad was crunchy and fresh, though, these days, a little underwhelming in its variety.

Mains were pork medallions (€17.95) and seafood pie (€14.95). I say, and the menu said, medallions but the meat wasn’t actually rounded and extra thick, it was essentially fillet of loin. Nevertheless, it was well cooked and tasty. Leak and parsnip underneath was far better than the more typical potato, with the parsnip, baked apple and pork fusing particularly well. Accompaniment was a dainty kidney dish of roast baby spuds with herbs, green beans, broccoli and carrots: all with the right level of crunch and flavour. My companion’s fish pie was an excellent, hearty affair. Plenty of mussels, prawns and salmon were complemented by creamy white sauce and a well baked crust.

To finish, a Tipperary cheese board (€8.95) and sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream and (added upon request) custard (€5.95). The latter was a comfort food spectacular, a romp through viscous sweetness. The cheese board consisted of five locals, four from Cooleeney farm and a Cashel Blue. Cooleeney’s quartet provided flavours and textures that, while individually good, were somewhat repetitive taken as a whole. Cheese temperature was also quite cold. Bringing in other excellent regional cheeses (eg. Killeens, Mossfields) might mean losing the pure Tipperary thing, but adding a helpful variety.

Two wines from the same stable featured.  New Zealand’s Marlborough region certainly has its own take on Sauvignon Blanc. Greenstone Point 2011 (€29) had a bouquet so big you could sit there and simply inhale deeply for a time. Its flavour too offered up a considerable range, with the typical southern hemisphere gooseberry and passion fruit markers finished off by a subtle, surprising hint of rhubarb. A glass of Greenstone’s Pinot Noir, which lingered with a damson flavour and velvet feel, washed down the pork.

Larkins, which has excellent customer service, is well worth a trip – by boat, bike or automobile.

OLIVER MOORE

 

We loved the location, wine and service

We spent €104.50 for three courses, wine, tea/coffee, excluding tip

Larkins
Garrykennedy,
Portroe,
Nenagh,
County Tipperary
Tel: +353 (0)67 23232
www.larkins.ie