The Burren Storehouse Lisdoonvarna Co. Clare Tel: +353(0)657074084 www.roadsidetavern.ie Visiting Lisdoonvarna during the Matchmaking Festival is an experience for the bucket list; the colourful ...
The Burren Storehouse
Visiting Lisdoonvarna during the Matchmaking Festival is an experience for the bucket list; the colourful town heaves with waltzing couples, gypsy fortune-tellers and busking fiddlers. Happily married and with two left feet, we sought refuge in the Burren Storehouse, a recent venture from hospitality super-couple, Birgitta and Peter Curtin. Together, they run the renowned Burren Smokehouse, the Burren Brewery and the Roadside Tavern (in the family since 1893).
The old storehouse has been transformed, with a purpose-built stage for live music and a ceiling softened by white drapes. The décor is rustic, and not in a gently-distressed designer way. The picnic tables are fashioned from timber and nails, the floor is polished concrete and the leather peels like sunburn from the seats.
The menus are just as simple. Main courses – steak, burger, chicken, bacon or salads – are listed on a cardboard sign, while pizzas are handwritten on a roll of brown paper. Beer choices include ale, lager or stout, all brewed just next door.
Orders placed and drinks in hand – a pint of smooth Burren Black for himself and a glass of delicate, smoky Burren Red for me – we settled into our seats. A giant TV screen projected the Ladies All-Ireland GAA final, with commentary as Gaeilge. The tables were full of locals: pink-cheeked ladies enjoying a Sunday tipple and broad-shouldered men tucking into bacon and cabbage, pints of milk at their elbows.
Our pizza was a triumph, demonstrating the magic of simple, quality ingredients: generous slices of Burren-smoked salmon were draped across a blanket of mozzarella, dotted with moss-green capers (€14.50). The base was thin and expertly crisped, darkened by the flame of the wood-fired oven. The pickled capers lent a briny tang to the buttery-soft smoked fish and creamy cheese.
The burger (€12) was a little underwhelming in comparison. The beef itself was tender and the charcoal grill had imparted a delicious maillard crust, but the bread bun was flaccid and the lettuce tired. The accompanying chips, however, were superb: a heavenly trinity of floury potatoes, lashings of vinegar and quality sea salt.
There was only one dessert – apple pie and ice-cream – but we were happy to share, alongside a pot of tea. My two grandmothers had vastly different baking styles. One favoured light, French-style tarts, the other fed her four boys with dense, heavy pies. The Burren Storehouse follows the latter tradition, encasing sweet apples in thick, golden pastry, served with traditional vanilla ice-cream.
The Burren Storehouse is less a restaurant than a truly Irish experience. The owners have shrugged off the usual vanities, choosing to focus instead on sheer authenticity; of the food, the environment, the sport, the music, even the beer. Many others may try, but here, in Lisdoonvarna, the Curtins have mastered it.
Open: Serving food Monday-Friday from 6pm, Saturday-Sunday from 2pm
We loved the simple, unaffected approach and the locally-sourced ingredients
We spent €41.40 on lunch for two, with beer, tea and pie