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Gordon Smyth’s cooking in the elegant Redcastle Hotel in Donegal is a new star for the county

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Gordon Smyth is a filigree cook. His dishes, from lamb fritters to chocolate fondant, are poised, colourful, packed with flavour and, above all, they are precisely executed.
In fact, you see Mr Smyth's jeweller’s-like attention to detail as soon as dinner begins in the classy surrounds of the Water’s Edge Restaurant in the Redcastle Hotel, just south of Moville, as some red onion ciabatta and fresh soda muffins are placed on the table. The ciabatta is filigreed with the onion crescents, the muffins dusted with oat flakes. Delightful.
And, from there, that acute attention to detail powers every dish from superb lamb fritters with gribiche, beautifully done with not a trace of lamb fat, and on to a dish of the most incredibly flavourful scallops, more than able to stand up to the contesting elements of black pudding crumb, a dice of pork belly, shards of apple and celeriac and an apple foam.
A Jerusalem artichoke velouté was poured from the jug onto a king oyster mushroom and a shard of ham, with a leaf of wild garlic. Mr Smyth’s strength with seafood was seen again with pitch-perfect pan fried cod, the fish translucent pearly white, the Puy lentils and the crispy crunch of chicken wings judged just right.
A fun course of doughnut with berry jam was nice but, in the context of the six courses of the Water's Edge tasting menu, perhaps the one thing that want completely essential. But a 72% warm chocolate fondant was one of those glories that just wraps you in a big hug of beauty, not least the fantastic Greencastle honey ice cream.
Great front of house staff are right on their game, the gins are good, the wines include some fine bottles, whilst the views across Lough Foyle are transcendent. Mr Smyth and his crew are crafting beautiful culinary art here in Redcastle, with an horlogier’s attention to detail, and it makes for an essential Donegal destination.

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