Bed and watered on the Waterfront
The bed and breakfasts may be of Fawlty Towers standard, but the food is fantastic down Rosses Point way in Co Sligo
The Waterfront Bar and Restaurant
The Waterfront Bar and Restaurant
Telephone: 00353 7191 77122
Address: Rosses Point Co Sligo
It looked like it was going to be one of those nights ... At the last moment the grandparents had offered to take the children for a couple of days, and so on an impulse we'd packed our bags and headed for the seaside.
Just over an hour later and we'd arrived in Rosses Point and finally found a B&B that wasn't full for the night.
But as we were shown upstairs we were a little taken aback when the designer-clad owner warned us to stay out of the single beds in the family room as he didn't want to have to make them again in the morning.
As he stood on the threshold he then remarked: "OK, so if you give me the money I'll give you the key".
So much for the 'Ireland of the welcomes'.
"I thought I looked fairly respectable," my wife remarked. "Me too," I replied with less conviction.
Anyway, having handed over the cash up front, we headed down the road to Austie's bar and restaurant, confident that a nice meal would take the slightly bad taste of our B&B experience out of our mouth.
Stepping into the warm, convivial atmosphere all was right with the world again ... until the waitress informed us that they'd just run out of gas in the kitchen and we couldn't have any food.
Just as it seemed we were destined for a night of the old student diet of Guinness and Tayto, we decided to try our luck at the place we'd previously passed down the road a bit.
Thankfully, despite being remarkably busy for a weekday night, The Waterfront bar and restaurant could accommodate us.
The long interior is comfortable, though unremarkable - decorated as it is in pretty bog-standard pub-restaurant style.
But the service was friendly and enthusiastic ... and as we were soon to discover the food wasn't half bad either.
From a choice of around a dozen starters we decided to share the crab claws.
The portion was supposed to be half a dozen but there were certainly more than that in the dish we received.
They came in a light garlic and chilli butter and with a smattering of salad - and were simply bursting with freshness.
We devoured them with relish.
Despite a good number of interesting and unusual meat dishes, we had both plumped for seafood for dinner too - and after the starter it seemed like a good move.
We weren't disappointed - in fact if anything the main courses were even better than that starter.
My wife's turbot was a char-grilled monster of a fish. Huge chunks fell off onto the plate where it was combined with an lovely sweet potato mash.
My generous portion of black sole had been treated as it should be - with a simplicity of touch that allowed the quality of the catch to shine through. Pan-fried, with a lemon butter sauce, it was plump, tantalising perfection.
Meanwhile the vegetables were similarly excellent. Peas in their pods, the sweetest of turnip and some luxuriant lyonnaise potatoes - fantastic.
By this stage if there had been any seafood options on the dessert menu we would probably have gone for them too.
Instead, though tempted by the cheeseboard, we opted to share a vanilla creme brulee.
Now, I would be the first to admit that there aren't many things in this world that I could claim to be something of an expert in.
But I can profess to know a bit about brulee, having had it dozens of times in many different ways since I started my love affair with it many moons ago.
I've had white chocolate brulee, blueberry, rhubarb, blackcurrant, apple, Cointreau, whiskey and dozens of other variations on the theme.
Here it was the classic vanilla affair, which is invariably the way it's done in France, and it was pretty much all you could ask for.
We finished off with coffees as we reflected on what an unexpected delight The Waterfront had been.
The service was warm, friendly and efficient and the atmosphere was bustling and lively. In many cases if the grub's anywhere near reasonable that's enough for an enjoyable night out.
But here, with an emphasis on the freshest of ingredients, and cooking of the highest standard, the food is a delight.
What's perhaps most impressive of all is that the Waterfront boasts a chef who is obviously inventive and creative, but who also knows when to keep it simple.
By the next morning the curmudgeonly B&B owner had been transformed into a friendly, witty, amusingly controversial conversationalist, who revealed that his wife was horrified by his utterances to the guests.
"We'll see you again," he shouted as he saw us off after a good hour or so of chat.
Probably so - for The Waterfront had made quite a splash with us.
What we had:
Crab claws €11.95
Dover Sole €29.95
Vanilla Creme Brulee €8.50
Bottle of Touraine €19.00
Two bottles of Miller €8.40
White coffee €2.00
Total: €109.25 (£77)
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