WICK­LOW

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS | EATING OUT -

041-988 4444, conyn­g­hamarms.ie ¤ This pas­tel-hued ho­tel on Slane’s Main Street has a neat lit­tle restau­rant tucked down some stairs at the back of the build­ing. The odd-shaped dining room has an open kitchen to the right of the en­trance, with ta­bles loop­ing to the left, around a bar that di­s­ects three small, sep­a­rate rooms.

It’s a sis­ter ho­tel to nearby Tankard­stown House, which boasts the ex­cel­lent Brabazon restau­rant un­der head chef Rob­bie Krawczyk. There’s a new chef at the helm in the Conyn­g­ham Arms – Kil­lian O’Dono­hoe joined last month and his menu reads well, with a moz­zarella, tomato, blood or­ange and rocket salad (¤6.50) and Black Wex­ford Mussels in gar­lic and wine (¤9.50). The prices are also at­trac­tive, with most mains clip­ping ¤15 – apart from a sir­loin steak au poivre (¤23). In a hurry, we or­der one starter to share, a tian of picked crab with “spiced mary­rose dress­ing” on Slane baked brown bread (¤12.50).

Un­for­tu­nately, this takes more than 20 min­utes to ar­rive, and while the crab is fresh, it’s been drowned in far too much may­on­naise – no spice or “mary­rose” flavour – although the bread is very good. For mains a con­fit of Ir­ish duck leg with mash, braised cab­bage with an or­ange and thyme demi glaze (¤14.50) is a de­cent piece of meat, if still quite fatty. The thyme flavour has been fully ab­sorbed by the red cab­bage, a slightly jar­ring combo. The mash is creamy and well sea­soned. Oddly, two large swirls of bal­samic vine­gar and pesto sur­round the meal – en­tirely un­nec­es­sary when the demi glaze is so full of flavour.

A slow-cooked lamb shank (¤16.50) looks very at­trac­tive, with roast gar­lic mash and “roasted” car­rot (ac­tu­ally slightly soggy, pre­cut car­rot ba­tons). The shank is ten­der and well cooked but lacks depth of flavour – it could do with more sea­son­ing or punchier cooking juices on top. There’s some de­cent cooking hap­pen­ing here and at very rea­son­able prices – by the time we leave the room is full with a mix of lo­cals and tourists.

OCEAN BAR AND GRILL

Strand Road, Bray, Co Wick­low, 01-286 5071, ocean­barand­grill.ie ¤¤ Housed in a large build­ing over­look­ing the Bray seafront, Ocean avoids feel­ing too cav­ernous with ex­posed brick walls and warm-coloured fur­ni­ture.

There are some nice booths along­side the back wall, a wood-burning stove and the sep­a­rate White Room – which has a strong nau­ti­cal theme )no short­age of an­chor mo­tifs, shells and light­houses) is avail­able for pri­vate hire. Once this never-end­ing win­ter passes, the front ter­race gives great views out to sea (ig­nore the car park be­low).

Break­fast is served on week­ends only, and has a limited menu. Bet­ter to or­der from the lunch menu, which has a stan­dard ¤6.95 for all starters (such as chow­der with brown soda bread or Tiger prawn and crab risotto cake with rocket and salsa), and ¤5.75 for desserts (sticky tof­fee pud­ding with butterscotch sauce and ice cream, or choco­late and hazelnut panna cotta).

There’s typ­i­cal grill of­fer­ings, such as steaks and seafood; the burg­ers are large (the kind that need a steak knife to hold them to­gether), while chips are the fat, fluffy kind, served in a mini deep­fryer bas­ket.

There’s a theatre and din­ner deal with nearby Mer­maid Arts Cen­tre where you can get a ticket to se­lected shows plus two- or three-course pre-theatre meal and glass of wine for ¤32/¤38. There’s a two-course meal for ¤24 from 5pm and the kids’ meal, while of the gou­jon, lasagne, sausage and chip va­ri­ety, is just ¤6.95 with a dessert and drink.

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