By Ge­orge, this is a proper birth­day feast

How Lim­er­ick spoiled me as I said good­bye to my twen­ties

Irish Daily Mail - - Travel - BY JEN­NIFER BRAY

IT is only three years since Lim­er­ick was des­ig­nated as the in­au­gu­ral City of Cul­ture – and three years since I promised my­self that I would make the trip and see the city for my­self.

But it was only on my third trip – ear­lier this month – that I would fi­nally get the chance to see ex­actly what Lim­er­ick has to of­fer.

My first two jaunts to the city were for all-day work con­fer­ences, both in the depths of the Ir­ish win­ter.

Ready to strike for my third time lucky, I and my hus­band Alan trav­elled from Dublin to Lim­er­ick for a birth­day week­end to mark the last (sob) year of my 20s.

We stayed at the Ge­orge Ho­tel, a bou­tique ho­tel lo­cated cen­trally on Shan­non Street that has the hard-won rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing one of the city’s most ex­clu­sive places to stay.

The ho­tel it­self is ul­tra-mod­ern, very laid-back, with an al­most open-plan de­sign once you take the es­ca­la­tor to the first floor.

It took us less than a minute to check in be­fore we were whisked up to our room on the top floor. As we stepped out of the lift, we were greeted with panoramic views of Lim­er­ick’s sky­line.

If I thought this view was im­pres­sive, I was in for an even greater surprise when I pushed open the door to my room. The first thing that caught my eye was a deca­dent choco­late cake – and it was love at first sight.

But the same can also be said for the lux­u­ri­ous room, which was split into a sep­a­rate bed­room, liv­ing room and bath­room. And just be­yond was a bal­cony, which also looked out across the rooftops of the city.

In the liv­ing room, I sank into the deep, sunken couch and spent quite some time curled up there, just me and the birth­day cake, which was a lovely touch from the restau­rant’s man­age­ment.

THIS was to be our first taste of Lim­er­ick’s gen­uine hos­pi­tal­ity and the gen­er­ous spirit of the lo­cals – a theme which would con­tinue un­til our very last hour at the end of the week­end.

We de­cided to prop up the counter of the ho­tel bar be­fore din­ner in the restau­rant, Da Vin­cenzo. The bar has got the mix of mod­ern but tra­di­tional spot on. A beau­ti­ful rec­tan­gu­lar glass ceil­ing pours light down into the bar, which is dec­o­rated with chan­de­liers and sten­cil- style art on the walls. The restau- rant is al­most part of the bar, but ex­tends into a more for­mal set­ting to­wards the front of the build­ing.

I strug­gled with the amount of choice on of­fer when asked the sim­ple ques­tion of what I’d like to drink – be­ing an in­de­ci­sive per­son – be­cause the menu was laden with many dif­fer­ent cock­tails, wines and beers.

Given that I was cel­e­brat­ing my last year of un­bri­dled youth, I went with a cel­e­bra­tory Pros­ecco and fol­lowed it up with a ‘Para- dise Is­land’ cock­tail (Ha­vana club, Coin­treau, pineap­ple and lemon juice – very trop­i­cal).

For din­ner, we were led to a ta­ble which had views down across Shan­non Street. It was per­fect for peo­ple-watch­ing.

The menu, as can be ex­pected from the name Da Vin­cenzo, is a mix of clas­sic and new Ital­ian dishes, with a vast ar­ray of op­tions to suit pretty much any palate.

For the more ravenous guests, the restau­rant of­fers ‘by the me­tre pizza’, which is gen­er­ally rec­om­mended for be­tween three to five guests. Given there were just two of us and I had al­ready scoffed half a cake, we went straight to mains.

I played it safe once again (I’m sure this will change when I turn 30) and opted for the oven-baked lasagne.

Alan chose the turkey mi­lanese, which is a breaded turkey esca­lope, served with or with­out a car­bonara tagli­atelle.

Italy is our favourite place to hol­i­day and we have shared some of our best mem­o­ries, in­clud­ing food mem­o­ries, there.

And the food in Da Vin­cenzo is the real deal. The lasagne was fresh, with a deep and rich tomato sauce topped with a melted buf­falo moz­zarella.

The turkey mi­lanese was lightly breaded, thin, crispy, a gen­er­ous por­tion. Both plates were cleared com­pletely and the whole lot was washed down with a bot­tle of Chi­anti that was per­haps a lit­tle too easy to drink.

For those who have space for dessert (mine be­ing the en­tire choco­late cake) the type of fare on of­fer in­cludes tira­musu, gelato, choco­late mousse and even a pizza Nutella, which I I’ll drink to that: Our birth­day girl Jen­nifer is in fine spirit have promised my­self I will re­turn to try. The ser­vice was im­pec­ca­ble, never in­tru­sive but never too far away if you needed some­thing.

It was a per­fect day and evening, made won­der­ful by the staff of the Ge­orge, who went out of their way to make us feel wel­come at all times.

Not be­ing fa­mil­iar with the city, I had won­dered be­fore the trip what we would fill our week­end with – but my wor­ries were un­founded. We spent the Satur­day wan­der­ing around the ‘milk mar­ket’, tak­ing in the sights and smells: fresh cheese, meats, choco­late, wine, soaps, an­tiques.

We am­bled around city cen­tre shops and pubs and were amazed once again at how the lo­cals of Lim­er­ick go out of their way to be friendly and to help.

One thing is for sure: I won’t be leav­ing it three years to make my re­turn trip to Lim­er­ick and to the Ge­orge Ho­tel.

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