BALLYCASTLE, County Mayo, Ireland -- It is rare indeed when independent food critics discover only perfection during their visits to Ireland’s leading food purveyors. When food gurus John & Sally McKenna visited Stella Maris Country House Hotel in Ballycastle, Co. Mayo with their children for a couple of days, the results were exceptional.
The authors of the Bridgestone Guides, one of Ireland’s leading independent hospitality books, were overwhelmed by their experience at Stella Maris Country House Hotel, a proud member of Ireland’s Blue Book. The McKennas added Stella Maris to their prestigious list of Top 100 Restaurants in Ireland, and well as Bridgestone’s Top 100 Places to Stay in Ireland), they were effusive in their praise of proprietor/chef Frances Kelly and her exquisite work. In the words of the McKennas:
"How often do you get perfect cooking, with every dish? Not very often, but that's what we got at Stella. Every single dish we ate on a recent family visit to Stella Maris was perfect in every detail. Not fussy perfect, or pretentious perfect, or obsessive perfect. Just perfect in and of itself: tian of crabmeat with tomato concasse, chives and a gazpacho coulis; toasted Ardsallagh goat’s cheese with basil pesto on garden greens; fillet of beef with thyme-scented rosti and port wine jus; rack of Ballycastle lamb with ratatouille and rosemary; tiramisu; blueberry crème brulee. The kids had beautiful tagliatelle, then beautiful chicken with sweet potato.
"Breakfast the next morning was just as perfect, but that’s described in another book.
"It seems invidious, then, to say that the tagliatelle, the rosti and the tiramisu were so perfect as to be beyond perfect, but that's just what they were.
"And they great thing about Frances Kelly’s cooking is that it is all done with so much understatement, in a house of wonderful restraint. Modest perfection. Demure perfection. So rare in brash modern Ireland, and all the more welcome because of that.”
Stella Maris, which is Latin for "star of the sea," is also praised in the Bridgestone’s Top 100 Places to Stay in Ireland, also written and edited by the McKennas.
"Stella Maris is not just one of the stars of the county, it is one of the stars of the entire country," wrote John McKenna. "Stella is a true star...Star of the sea? Stella Maris is star of the country!"
Stella Maris Country House Hotel is open April to October each year. Additional information can be obtained at www.StellaMarisIreland.com.
(Int’l) + 353-96-43322