46 Church Street, Enniskillen. Tel- 028 66328224
The new culinary home for Fermanagh chef Glen Wheeler is within the Blakes of the Hollow complex in what was previously Café Merlot.
He has kept the 28 from his original venture, 28 Darling Street, to bring 28@The Hollow to Fermanagh foodies.
From the busy street, we walked down a long narrow corridor to the restaurant but it opens out into a large dining area. We were seated at the entrance so I didn’t really get a full view of it, but what I saw looked appealing.
The lunch menu was extensive and really reflected the chef’s classic cookery style. It is certainly at the upper end of fine dining menu lunch prices but there were a few lighter options on offer as well.
I will start by giving an honourable mention to one of those options, a cheese and ham toastie, which was probably the best toastie I have ever encountered. Big thick pieces of sweet and salty, sugar pit ham and lots of top quality mature melted cheddar.
It came between thick slices of white bread with a wonderful crisscross char on the outside. I didn’t think I could get so excited by a toasted sandwich, let alone one that was not even for me. It came with a side of quality chips, and as far as seemingly simple lunch offerings go, this would be hard to beat.
My main was a striploin steak which had been sliced quite thinly and fanned out — which has long been part of traditional French cuisine presentation — but it did feel a bit like it had been done to hide the fact it was a very small piece of meat. Lack of size aside, it was beautifully cooked, with seasoning to match, and the rich sauce with a whack of pepper and a fiery hit of alcohol worked really well with it. There was a creamy sauce on the side as well which was refreshing and cut through some of the intense richness.
The other dish was a very classic combination of confit duck leg and orange sauce. The duck was, of course, cooked to perfection, the sauce was sharp, sweet and sticky, and it all sat on a bed of creamy champ.
My one criticism was that both of these mains seemed to be lacking in a bit more garnish to make them feel complete and elevate this classical style to true classical perfection.
Like that little something that was missing from those dishes, there was equally something missing from the service. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the service, but I do have certain expectations in a fine-dining establishment.
With food this good I expect to see a bit more pride and passion from the service as there is no doubt that the chef has poured out pride and passion in the kitchen creating that food, but the whole thing just felt very functional.
I do appreciate the current restrictions have dampened that interaction, but it was still a little too flat.
As for dessert, we did not find a single fault. Buttery pastry tart filled with rich chocolate ganache, adorned with smooth ice cream and a sweet shard of honeycomb. The dish was made even more wonderful by a series of sharp fruity gels on the plate.
Simply put, patisserie as it should be to round off an afternoon of classic gastronomy.
Toastie & Chips£9.50
2 Chocolate tarts£13.00
2 Soft Drinks£5.60
1 Wine Spritzer£10.15