Inch House, Thurles, Co. Tipperary - 16 August, 1997

Anybody guess the significance of the date, 16 August, 1997? Eh? Eh? Tsk! Tut! I am most disappointed in you all... it's the 11th. wedding anniversary in the Prendiville family. We decided to celebrate by treating ourselves with a meal at Inch House, which is situated in The Ragg, a few miles outside Thurles, Co. Tipperary. We'd heard that the standard of cuisine there was excellent; it was even featured on a cookery programme on RTE televeision a few years ago. So we were really looking forward to something rather special...

For starters, we both chose citrus and champagne sorbets, served in champagne "flutes" (is that what they're called?). Very subtle, very appetising.

For the next course (you'll have to excuse me, I'm not well up on the technical jargon of five-course meals), Mary had smoked salmon stuffed with cream cheese and fresh herbs. Again, this was very subtle and delicate and Mary rated it very highly. I, on the other hand, chose a warm salad of goat's cheese, coated with oatmeal, in a yoghurt dressing. An interesting idea, but the cheese was rather strong-tasting, and did not react very well with the Marquis de Rescal Rioja 1989 that we had selected. A bit of a disappointment, I fear.

For the main course, Mary chose the pan-roasted tenderloin of lamb with herb stuffing and mint sauce. Mary rated this very highly; the lamb was roasted to perfection. I selected the braised supreme of chicken with wild mushroom sauce. This was delightful; the chicken was excellent, the mushrooms were suitably wild and the sauce was of a pleasing consistency. The vegetables included, mashed potates, carrots, mangetout, turnips ("Yuck", sez Mary), and, here's something kinky, potatoes and nutmeg with a cream sauce. Now that rather scrummy.

Then to the dessert. Mary opted for a selection of ice creams. Perfection. I, of course, went a bit mad. I ordered the Inch House Dessert Plate. Now, I reckoned with a name like that, I'd be getting a selection of desserts. What I didn't reckon for was that I'd be getting a generous (almost a half-) portion of all the desserts on the menu! Now, lessee, can I remember 'em all?

Man, it was a struggle, but I struggled on manfully. It was delicious, but I'm sure it's taken a few years off my life. The next day I had to go for a 15 mile cycle to punish the body...

How would I rate Inch House?. Well, it is quite excellent. The house is beautiful, even though the setting is a bit bleak. The warm salad knocks off .25 of a mark, leaving, in my reckoning, a score of 9.25/10. The Stables in Birr is still safely in the lead...

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