On the scenic drive from the entrance gate to Mount Juliet Manor House we were immediately in awe of the breathtaking views across the magnificent Jack Nicklaus Championship Golf Course. Pulling up outside the Wisteria covered Georgian Manor House it is very easy to see how this enchanting establishment has received its very much deserved Five Star status. This 32 bed beauty dates back to the 18th Century and has played host to many distinguished guests over the years. A family home until 1989, the Manor House exudes elegance and glamour. Excitedly checking in and venturing off to our room, marveling along the way our captivating surroundings.
Once we reached our lavish quarters for the night we were in no rush to leave. Grenan Manor Room with its quartet of Riverside sash windows gives you a vantage point of many acres of the estate. Opening the windows and allowing the sounds of nature to fill our home for the night whilst enjoying a glass of wine is definitely a winning way to start any weekend. However, the sun was shining and a wonderful estate awaited outside so the wine was put aside and the runners were pulled on for an afternoon stroll.
Losing track of time is very easy to do in the magestic gardens of Mount Juliet, the walled rose garden and the walled ornamental garden are filled with many quaint and unique features namely the Moongate which stands proudly in all its distinctively quirky glory. Lots of carefully thought out planting in the herbaceous borders and throughout the expanse of the estate make this one of the most picturesque and standout estates in the country.
We were so fortunate to have amazing weather for our stay. Sitting outside the Manor House for a pre dinner cocktail in the sunshine was a rather lovely way to build up an appetite for dinner in the Michelin Star and 3AA Rosette The Lady Helen Restaurant.
The Lady Helen Restaurant in all its opulent grandeur resides within Manor House. Walking into this staggeringly stunning space it is clear that nothing less than perfection will do. From the solid back crushed velvet dining chairs to the intricate detailing of the wall moldings, everything about The Lady Helen Restaurant evokes a distinct sense of lavish luxury throughout. The staff all move with a level of ease and poise that matches the elegant surroundings.
Deciding on the 7 Course Signature Tasting Menu with Wine Pairings €143.00 per person. Opting for Wine Pairings as opposed to ordering a bottle of wine is something we really enjoy and highly recommend. Anyone that enjoys food and wine will know how annoying it can be when you spend time choosing a bottle and although the wine may be great and the food delicious they just don’t compliment each other’s as well as you would have hoped.
After demolishing a selection of gorgeous breads with our favorite Abernethy Butter, mini cones of Mackrel & Horseraddish along with a refreshing glass of Prosecco sent us happily on our culinary expedition for the evening.
A flavourful Amuse Bouche of Mushroom Custard, Spring Onion, Aioli & Parsley brought every tastebud to life with its intense impression on the palate. The colour alone of this little wonder bowl is as vibrant to the eye as it was on the lips.
Scallops are always a dish both of us are immediately drawn to on any menu but these plump, buttery beauties have set the bar higher for any future scallop tasting we may encounter! Scallops – Champagne Sabyon, White Navet paired with Walnut Block Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2016. The wine pairing was delightful however the Champagne Sabyon deserves special mention, such an exquisite accompaniment to the tender juicy scallops that were cooked to that level of perfection where the crispy top and bottom are housing the most succulent of flesh all married together so delectably by the indulgent Champagne Sabyon.
Next to our table was Cod – Asparagus, Chive Beurre Blanc, Violet Artichoke, with an almost botanical look to this plate you would be forgiven for thinking that many of the elements are just plate dressings, alas that was not the case. A super fresh piece of Cod, cooked carefully to capture and retain as much succulency as possible of its sweet juicy flesh. The unmistakable tang of the Chive Beurre Blanc enhancing every mouthful. Violet Artichoke and Asparagus adding the much needed depth of texture. Paired delightfully with Duas Quintas, Ramos Pintos, Douro, Portugal 2015.
Just as there is a star in every show or a jewel in every crown there is always a stand out dish on every tasting menu that you just know after eating it you will be lamenting on it for some time to come. If we could insert a drumroll here we would. Kilkenny Rose Veal – Wild Garlic, Morels, Vin Jaune Sauce. Insanely tender meat with an unrivaled smoothness of texture and delicate flavour so cleverly plated with a less is more attitude on the flavour spectrum. Wild Garlic, Morels & Vin Jaune Sauce serve to only heighten this spectacular piece of meat which we were reliably informed is reared just ten minutes away from Mount Juliet Estate. A knockout plate of food that has some Michelin Magic in every mouthful. Beautifully paired with Gnarly Head, Old Vines Zinfandel, USA 2013
A plate of pure prettiness arrived to the table in the form of pre-Dessert of Rhubarb Foam, Loveage Ice-Cream and Hibiscus. The herabaceous, fragrant freshness of the Loveage Ice-Cream a lovely juxtaposition to the tart Rhubarb.
A classic dessert of Tiramisu – Coffee, Chocolate, Mascarpone followed looking like something that belonged in an art gallery, joyfully paired with a silky smooth Espresso Martini. Again quality ingredients scream through every bite. The deconstructed nature of the Tiramisu actually made this a much nicer alternative to the traditional layers it is know for. It was almost as if each delectable element got their own moment in the spotlight. The stuff of dessert bucket lists if such a thing exists.
Although completely satisfied by our delicious dinner the arrival of Petit Fours to the table is somehow never an indulgence we can pass up on. These six tasty treats were absolutely devoured over coffee with not one regret.
Dining in The Lady Helen was a dining experience that reaffirms the truth behind high quality fine dining. All the plate dressing in the world will never distract from the basics of great produce handled properly. Speaking briefly to Head Chef John Kelly the pure dedication and passion that John and the team devote to their work here is eveident in spades.
As stated in the opening paragraph, it is not hard to see how Mount Juliet Estate has achieved its Five Star Rating. Everything from the staff, food, grounds and views are top class. One thing that really stood out to us is the lengths Mount Juliet have gone to to keep their brand colour, purple, alive and relevant in every aspect of the hotel. Be it in the lilac shade of the Wisteria that covers Manor House or the plush curtain fabrics hung throughout, everything is carefully chosen in a considered manner that certainly did not go unnoticed by us. This is a terrific Taste Experience that we throughly recommend.
Mount Juliet Estate,
WRITTEN BY KEITH MAHON & OLIVIA BYRNE