A long overdue trip to The Yeats County saw us indulge in some of the finest cooking that Sligo and infact, this entire island has to offer. Eala Bhán, the Irish for White Swan, is picturesquely located on the banks of the Garavogue River. We arrived on a cold, rainy Friday night for our 8pm booking and the warmly illuminated restaurant front, with lots of diners enjoying their Friday night treat was indeed a very inviting scene.
Stepping inside Eala Bhán, the atmosphere is lively and there is chatter and laughter aplenty, as much from the fantastically engaging staff as from the diners. Anthony Gray is the man behind this marvellous restaurant. A wonderful advocate for the hospitality industry in Sligo. Anthony’s sincerity and genuine love of local produce is second to none and this shines through ever so strongly in the food being served here in Eala Bhán.
The interiors are so elegant. A dark wood mezzanine floor, very well spaced tables, warm cream soft furnishings and twinkling fairy lights, this is a restaurant that invites you to fully relax and unwind, there is absolutely no sign of anyone being rushed through their courses as can sometimes be the way unfortunately. We especially love the nod to the great W.B Yeats with many beautiful quotes on display. It is evident that a lot of heart and soul has gone into creating this warm, welcoming ambiance.
Opting for the 8 Course Delicate Tasting Menu, superb value at €69.00 per person. Anthony very kindly and expertly matched some beautiful wines for us with each course. Our first course was Taste of the Land and Sea – 12hour slow cooked Pork Belly, Kataifi Prawn, Garlic Spinach Puree, Bacon Dust. A small dish that packed a big punch of flavour. Juicy prawn wrapped in the lightest, crisp strings of filo pastry sitting atop a super succulent slice of Pork belly. The freshness of Garlic Spinach Puree adding great balance of flavour.
Following this we were treated to a stunning looking plate of Eala Bhán Duck Duo – Smoked Duck Breast, Homemade Pate, Flavoured Toast, Cashel Blue Ice Cream. Soft and creamy Cahel Blue Ice Cream housed within a waffle cone. A seductive sliver of Smoked Duck Breast with a dreamy Duck Pate and a slice of crisp toast. A plate filled with texture and tang.
Next up was the Cheese Tasting Plate – Honey Garlic & Thyme Goats Cheese, Carpaccio Beetroot, Cracked Black Pepper Cows Cheese Fritter, Saffron Mayo. Apricot & Almond Soft Cheese, Chilli Lemongrass, Tomato Chutney. My dinner date is never very excited about cheese courses however, this was unlike most cheese courses. Little bob-bon’s of delicious flavour combinations were a real winner.
Always a welcome palate refresher, Champagne Sorbet, served just as beautifully as its predecessors.
Reefed Medallions of Beef – Sherlocks of Tubbercurry Beef Medallions, Cooked Medium, John Flynn Lemon Buttered Scallop, Pomme Puree, Warm Bacon Foam. This beef was absolutely outstanding. So tender you could cut it with a butter knife. Each bite of rich beef with a sliver of those lemon buttered scallops was little bit of food heaven. The extensive effort that Anthony puts into sourcing the best possible local produce shines through in each course.
We were very glad of a short reprieve before our next course, Market fresh Catch of the Day. Another fine example of great produce handled correctly. A saddle of fresh, flaky Monkfish graced our plates. Sitting on a bed of creamy Risotto, this is the kind of dish you always hope will deliver but sadly Monkfish so often doesn’t. Anthony and his team have this dish down to a fine art. Cooked and seasoned to perfection, a really gorgeous course.
Our show stopping Chocolate Surprise dessert was the stuff of every chocolate lovers dream. A chocolate sphere, melted at the table with ladles of hot chocolate, revealing a mecca of mini marshmallows, strawberries, chocolate brownie chunks and white chocolate drops. Lots of diners on the night were also enjoying this dessert which created a great sense of excitement, ohhh’s and ahhhh’s were echoing around the room.
Although we had absolutely no room for more food, the Selection of Petit Fours proved far too tempting not to try. We would buy these little beauties by the box should Mr Gray start to sell them.
If you are a Sligo native or like us, you love travelling around beautiful Ireland and indulging in some of this islands unrivalled produce, Eala Bhán is a must try. It is a dining experience that is delivered with great love, attention and dedication by Anthony and his very talented team.
5 Rockwood Parade,
(071) 914 5823
WRITTEN BY KEITH MAHON & OLIVIA BYRNE