Review by Jean McGuire:
At last! A few weeks ago my son Peter finally got around to giving me my birthday present, which I had been eagerly awaiting since last October. He brought me to Temple Spa in Westmeath, and it was worth waiting for.
From the moment you arrive here, your soul becomes part of the relaxed atmosphere. Although I think it could do with a lick of paint outside, inside there’s an air of friendliness, warmth, and homeliness that I haven’t experienced in any other spa. Ever. After my treatments we spent a few hours sitting outside, sipping on herbal teas and eating delicious homemade cookies the likes of which I have never tasted before.
The sun was shining, it was a beautiful afternoon, and what a view: extensive fields stretched out for miles with the mountains in the background and cattle grazing to their heart’s content. Following a few hours taken up doing nothing, we went to the restaurant for our evening meal.
I started with an exquisite Chicken Liver Parfait with Red Onion and Blueberry Compote, which was served with Homemade Brown Soda Bread. Peter had fresh and juicy Scallops wrapped in Ham and served on a Pea Puree with a Salad and Mustard Dressing.
Then the chef gave us a taster of his Sweetcorn Soup. Sweetcorn is kind of forgettable, and I expected some sort of lumpy and unpalatable mess. But this was smooth, creamy, full-bodied, well-presented, and absolutely unforgettable.
For our main, we both chose the Roasted Cod. It was served with a Caramelised Onion Tart, cherry tomatoes, grilled baby marrows, and a Caper and Black Olive Tapenade. It sounds like an eclectic mix, but all the gutsy flavours were well-balanced, while maintaining their own identity. Even the accompanying mashed potato was spot on.
The only slight let-down was the dessert. My Bread and Butter Pudding with Prunes was a little bland, although the ice cream was great. Peter, however, enjoyed his gooey, moist, and warm Chocolate Souffle.
Flawless, friendly, and professional without being overbearing. The restaurant was full and buzzing, always a good sign. There’s a real sense that the staff are working as a team: they smile at each other and the customers, and seem to really enjoy the job. Despite it being very busy, they didn’t betray a hint of stress. I found it great that my water was constantly topped up without needing to ask, as in many places you can ruin your dinner by spending half the meal at the edge of your seat, vying for the waiter’s over-divided attention.
I work on a pretty tight budget and would generally aim for the cheap and cheerful places. However, this was an affordable treat and well worth every cent. You don’t have to be attending the spa to go to the restaurant, and €48 gets you three courses plus tea/ coffee, while it’s €39 for two courses plus tea/ coffee. Great location, beautiful interior, outstanding service and excellent food. I’d be happy to come here again.
- The Garden Room, Temple Spa, Moate, Co. Westmeath. For more information or bookings call 057 933 5118 .