The other week, I loitered around the Brooklodge Hotel near Aughrim in Co. Wicklow, contemplating fantasies as to how I could stay and eat there once a month. My delusions wavered between winning the lottery and accidently stumbling on some dark secret that I could hold against the hotel.
I wasn’t stalking the place (honest), but my friend Roisin and I were heading back from a walk in Glenmalure and wanted something to fill our bellies. The amazing Strawberry Tree was closed and way beyond our budget anyway so we headed for the Brooklodge’s Orchard Cafe, which we accessed through the lovely Acton’s Pub.
The Orchard Cafe is a small place with just a few seats, and it’s one of four eating options at the Brooklodge Hotel. The lunch menu was relatively small, but our food was absolutely perfect. My beer-battered Fish and Chips (€13.50) was superbly fresh and, unusually, I could really taste the beer in the batter. Proper order. Roisin had a Beef Stew (€9.90). It had been cooked really slowly in a tomato-based sauce with a great balance of herbs and spices and was as good as it gets. As usual with the food at Brooklodge, all the ingredients were top-quality and organic.
The bill came to €30.80 before service for two mains, a delicious fresh apple juice, and two espressos. We whiled away a few hours here with the Saturday papers, dreaming of massages and long stays in their lovely rooms. Now I have a base from which to plot my permanent move to the Brooklodge…