Gary O’Hanlon is in the centre of the country, and he is in the centre of the culinary culture. He’s put Longford on the map by making Viewmount such a sure-fire success, and he’s put Viewmount on the map by making his cooking in the VM restaurant the centre for the artisan suppliers whose produce underpins his menus, indeed his entire culinary style. Like Bernadette O’Shea in Sligo, or Maura Foley in Kenmare or Myrtle Allen in Shanagarry, he has built something where there was nothing, and that is some mighty feat for a chef.
His cooking has a mighty moreishness, and a sense of verve, flavour and colour which explains the incredible popularity of the restaurant – the signature duck leg confit; ham hock and chicken terrine with oyster mushrooms; 36-hour pork belly with chicken wing jus; Donegal cod with Rogan’s smoked bacon and vegetable ragout. The food has explosive flavours, and Mr O’Hanlon works hard to extract every iota of taste from his impeccable ingredients. Add in excellent value, great service from Beryl Kearney, and Viewmount House is top of the pops.
Viewmount is the place that has put County Longford on the culinary map. Thanks to Beryl and James Kearney’s hospitality, and Gary O’Hanlon’s dynamic cooking, Longford has gotten the destination it has so long needed.
Viewmount itself is a place with two identities: there is the original house, dating from the 1740’s, surrounded by peaceful gardens with especially beautiful, mature trees, and this is where James and Beryl Kearney look after you, and make sure you have whatever it is you need.
The second identity, then, is the modern, uber-hip VM restaurant where every Longford food lover – and many food lovers from much further afield – come to eat delicious, inventive cooking from Mr O’Hanlon, cooking which exploits the richness and variety that can be sourced from local artisans, hunted down by Mr O’Hanlon himself. The McKennas all ate superbly when at Viewmount, both at dinner, and with a brilliant breakfast cooked by James, served in one of the atmospheric rooms of the house. It’s a mighty one-two, one of the best double-acts in all of Irish cooking and hospitality.