The clue is in the name with restaurant 1826. The cottage it calls home is old – one hundred and eighty eight years old to be exact – and the offering, like its name, is simple.
A relatively new arrival to the tiny town of Adare, Co. Limerick, the interior of this restaurant is labyrinth-like, with narrow hallways giving way to low-ceilinged rooms. Small windows are recessed into thick whitewashed walls, overhung with rustic burlap drapes. Traditional Irish elements are added with a restrained hand: a cast iron kettle here, an old spinning wheel there.
Ushered in by a smiling hostess – one half of the husband-and-wife owners – we found ourselves seated in a warm, inviting room scattered with a few wooden tables, allowing us ample room for quiet conversation.
Nibbling on a selection of traditional breads, we perused the extensive menu and list of local suppliers before deciding on the delicioussounding specials.
My dining partner’s choice of brown bread baked scallops (€12.50) proved to be a very refined dish, the plump shellfish and beautiful presentation cocking a snook at my altogether more simple, but abundantly flavoured, wild mushroom soup (€5.50).
The wintery night led us both to game, beginning with a spellbinding loin of sika venison (€25.95). Expertly prepared and cooked, the peppery exterior gave way to delicate but firm pink flesh inside. The colourful arrangement of roast squash purée and crisp sprout leaves lent a playful twist to this serious dish, while a tangy elderberry vinegar cut beautifully through the earthy, meaty flavours.
My choice of breast of wild pheasant was an interesting one – the taste was mild, but the texture a little rough and ready. The struggle with this meat is its tendency to dry out, but the wise addition of coco beans, leeks, shredded leg, Ballyhoura mushrooms and a robust walnut cream bolstered the dish, developing an almost stew-like consistency. My glass of Chilean Merlot (Lontue Valley, €6.50) held its own admirably against these rich flavours.
Continuing in the traditional vein, I rounded off my meal with generous wedges of farmhouse cheeses (€9.00), encompassing Milleen, Cratloe Hills, Gubbeen and Crozier Blue paired with chutney and a few slices of achingly tart granny smith apples.
Much-needed sweetness came with my companion’s brulée and mixed berry sorbet (€6.95). The use of crème fraîche imbued this tried-and-tested dish with a refreshingly light texture, the crisp topping providing the perfect sugary contrast.
The unpretentious décor and warm hospitality of 1826 serves to lull the diner into a false expectation of simple home cooking. Do not be fooled though: with carefully sourced ingredients, an experienced, dextrous hand in the kitchen and real, tangible connection with the food, 1826 is a class act with a bright future ahead.
We loved the hospitality, local provenance and expertly prepared dishes
We spent €97.85 on three courses and two glasses of wine
Tel: +353 (0)61 396004;