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The Mustard Seed, Ballingarry

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

After three decades in the business, Dan Mullane’s Mustard Seed is on a new high. Mr Mullane has always been the host with the most, a genial and hugely funny man who can work a room of people like no other. To see him both greeting and bidding farewell to guests at Echo Lodge, the country house that houses the Mustard Seed restaurant, is to witness one of the greats of the hospitality game: someone should write a book about how he does it, how he creates the mix of magician and stand-up and confidant, and carries it off day after day.
But what is so total about the Mustard Seed at this moment is that Mr Mullane now has a kitchen whose excellence at the culinary arts matches his skills at the hospitality arts. Using the many gifts from their lovely gardens – their use of edible flowers is particularly notable – the fact that the kitchen fashions its own black pudding for breakfast gives you notice of how serious they are. And whilst the food reads complicated on the menu – turbot with Kenmare scallops, mousseron mushroom, wild black rice, caviar and lobster bisque is a fairly typical creation – the cooking eats wonderfully clean and logical. In fact, a late-summer dinner was the best food we have ever enjoyed in 25 years of being entertained at Mr Mullane’s tables, with the kitchen using every part of their batterie – pickling; smoking; foraging; fermenting – to create dishes which are visually stunning and eat like a dream.
And that’s just what it is like to eat and stay at the Mustard Seed: dreamlike.

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