The recession may have put paid to many things, but fine dining, it seems, is still very much alive and well in Co Longford.
And it would appear that same analogy can be used to describe the wider midlands region following the recently held Irish Restaurant Awards at Dublin’s plush Westlin Hotel.
Sponsored by the Sunday Independent, Longford no fewer than five establishments picked up awards.
Decorated eatery, Viewmount House scooped the Hotel and Country House Restaurant as well as Customer Service honours while its chef, Gary O’Hanlon also came in for noteworthy praise.
The awards for best Gastro Pub went to Valentines and casual dining prize to the Aubergine, with Longford town’s Black Olive Restaurant emerging victorious in the best restaurant category.
Giving her reaction earlier this week, proprietor Fiona O’Keeffe reserved special mention for her staff and all those who voted for the restaurant in recent weeks.
“We are so proud to Win Best restaurant in our county,” she smiled.” The excitement in Dublin was fantastic though I honestly didn’t think we would get the most prestigious award for our industry.”
Still moved by the events of two weeks ago, Ms O’Keeffe claimed the Dublin venue “went crazy” when the Black Olive’s name was announced as Leinster’s best restaurant.
She said the accolade bore testimony to the restaurant’s growing success, a feature which she hopes will resurface ahead of the competition’s next round in two weeks time.
“It not only recognises our hard work and our wonderful restaurant but also puts Longford in a very positive light. We are so proud to be through to the next round and while we are competing with the whole country, it is great to be recognised by all the great restaurants around Ireland,” she said.
Those sentiments were firmly supported by Paul Murphy, of Multyfarnham’s An Tintean restauarant-the top Co Westmeath casual dining restaurant for 2012.
Having set up the business almost two years ago, the former Killashee House Hotel chef, said the news could not have come at a better time.
“We are just over the moon,” he said. “It is very hard to keep doing the right thing but this is recognition of the fact that we are.”
Renowned for its delightful seafood variations, An Tintean prides itself on its warm, innate atmosphere backed up by what Paul described as “an old whirl charm and a new world food and service”.
He added: “We are doing rooms for €50 a night at the minute and everything we do is made freshly on the premises. Value and choice is everything and that’s what we will continue to do.”