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Smugglers Inn: Good homely grub but no real thrills at this country restaurant

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The Smugglers Inn, Clady

The Smugglers Inn, Clady

The Smugglers Inn, Clady

The Smugglers Inn Restaurant

157 Urney Road, Clady

Tel: 028 7188 5004

“We are going to Clady for dinner. No, not Claudy, Clady.”

Just like my family, you can be forgiven for confusing this small village near Strabane with a few similarly named places around the country.

There were plenty of cars parked at this restaurant and plenty of customers inside which is usually a good sign.

The dining area we were seated in was a bit run-down and unloved. It was in need of a bit of a spruce up; although I did notice the day after my visit, they announced a partial closure for a bit of a refurbishment, so they noticed it needed an upgrade too.

The menu was small and simple with a handful of starters and a dozen mains, mostly variations of chicken and beef. If that dizzying selection would be too difficult to pick from, there was also one incorporating both chicken and beef.

I didn’t notice any vegetarian offering but there were a couple of fish-based mains.

My first real hurdle was that one of my children have now reached that Goldilocks stage where the kids’ meals are not big enough, but the adult meals are still a bit too big.

I have finally found the solution, and that is to order an extra side of chips with the kid’s meal. Hardly an earth-shattering revelation but anything that makes for a more peaceful meal is a winner with me.

That along with the fact the kid’s meals were tasty made for a couple of very happy children.

I went for one of the beef options for main, a sirloin steak to be precise. When it arrived, it was nicely charred on the outside and was a substantial piece of meat.

I had ordered a chorizo sauce along with it, but when I dipped a chip in there was a completely unexpected hit of Indian spices, which, for me, would not have worked with a steak on any level.

I said to the server I thought I may have been given a curry sauce by mistake so they took it away and returned, telling me the sauce had been replaced with the correct one.

I have to give credit for ‘the customer is always right’ mentality, but the sauce wasn’t for me and I just asked to change it to good old reliable pepper sauce.

The incident did sum up the service, they were very helpful but it felt like I had to force that helpfulness. I had to instigate every interaction, search out sauce, wave down for some water and I always felt like I was trying to catch a speeding server.

Now to our food, the steak was great, the pepper sauce had a nice punch and the crispy tobacco onions added an extra bit of texture. There was an absolute abomination on the plate in the form of an unnecessarily cold blob described as bacon jam, which really did not work, both in terms of temperature and in taste.

The other main was two big bits of battered cod with some mushy peas, tartare sauce and chips. It was a huge plate of food and it was yet again very tasty, but the batter was too greasy to finish the whole dish. The portions had been big and the dessert menu didn’t really entice us, so that was the end of our meal.

The Smugglers delivered homely and hearty plates of food, which left everyone full and reasonably satisfied.

THE FOOD

Kid’s meal x 2 £9.90

Sides x 2 £7.00

Sirloin steak £19.95

Battered cod £13.95

Soft drinks x 6 £13.20

TOTAL£64.00

THE RATING

Service ***

Food ***

Decor ***

Vegetarian *


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