We were lucky enough to be invited to spend a night in the Ashdown Park Hotel in Gorey, Co. Wexford. Close enough to Dublin to justify heading there for a single night’s stay, it’s a great little getaway, and — most importantly — the food was well worth the short drive.
When we arrived, Head Chef Val Murphy welcomed us to the kitchen where he proudly told us about the hotel’s award-winning steaks. All of their Angus beef is reared on the Redmond Family Farm, five miles down the road; much of their produce is grown there, too, with no use of chemical pesticides. The beef is broken down in a small abbatoir nearby, then delivered to the hotel and aged in-house for up to four weeks. At the World Steak Challenge last week, their rib-eye won a silver award, while their sirloin took home a bronze. While Murphy is proud of every part of the food offering in the hotel, the beef is his great passion.
After a drink in the courtyard, with live music and people beginning to gather for the casual barbecue offering, we headed to the Rowan Tree restaurant to sample some of this beef for ourselves. We started with the seafood crumble: sweet, meaty crab claws, chunks of monkfish and fat prawns, coated in a rich, creamy sauce and topped with crispy crumbs. We then opted for the signature beef sharing board — this is definitely one for bigger appetites, but we’re ambitious, if nothing else.
Between two of us, we were presented with two fillet steaks, two beef cheek croquettes, two pieces of melt-in-your-mouth beef short rib and some generous slices of striploin. With this came Portobello mushrooms, confit tomatoes, both mashed and roast spuds, and jugs of beef jus and Bearnaise, as well as a side dish of roast root veg. To say this was a lot of food was an understatement, but we leave no bite behind — after a valiant effort, our leftovers were helpfully boxed up for us and made a delicious lunchtime treat the following day.
Before we would get to lunch, we enjoyed a restful night’s sleep in soft, cosy beds, before waking up early for a pre-breakfast swim in the leisure centre. Breakfast was buffet-style, but with optional extras made to order; our pan-fried kippers and poached eggs were perfect. After this, we visited the hotel’s Skin Gym, a specialist skincare centre, where hot stone massages were the order to the day. We drifted back to the car in a dream, completely relaxed and refreshed.
We’d have no hesitation in recommending the Ashdown Park Hotel as a convenient getaway from the big smoke. Come for the award-winning beef; stay for the warm hospitality and the amazing massages!
For more information, visit www.ashdownparkhotel.com.