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County Arms Hotel, Birr, Co. Offaly

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What: Restaurant in a 4 star hotel, currently undergoing renovation.

Prices: Average. Rack of lamb with champ €21, herb coated chicken €16, filet of salmon €16, starters between €6.50 and €7.50.

Vegetarian menu: Poor. Vegetable quiche €10, stir-fried noodles with veg €11, linguini pasta with forest mushroom sauce €10.

Drinks: Full bar.

Service: Friendly. However, the menu states that all of the mains are served with a choice of potato, veg, salad or chips. I was surprised when I ordered a main not to be advised that I should make a choice from that list. When I called the waitress back and said that I was confused she told me that all of the mains are served with a choice of the above, but that my main (mushroom linguini) is such a huge portion that they don’t make that offer to people who choose that meal.  She did bring me the included side in the end, but trying not to serve food included in the price of the meal is unacceptable.

Comfortable? The table was big and didn’t wobble. The chairs were comfortable enough. However, the table was dirty when we sat down — it still had crumbs from the previous guests. There was also a table in the middle of the room with a bizarre wine display and the tablecloth underneath had a brown stain on it. Such lack of attention to detail was evident throughout. A Nora Jones album was playing lightly in the background.

Was the food good? It was disgraceful. I ordered the “linguini with a forest mushroom sauce” at a cost of €10. I felt certain that it was straight from a packet and indeed it turned out that I was correct. The waitress checked in the kitchen and confirmed that it was from a Roma packet. It is stunning that this hotel thinks it is acceptable to serve a packet of Roma sauce to guests and then charge them full restaurant prices.

Toilets: Clean and functional.

My advice to the chef: I can only assume that there is not a chef in the kitchen. Surely no professional chef would consider pouring hot water on a packet of Roma powder to be the “gourmet cooking” that the hotel advertises on its website.

My advice to the manager: What you are serving up here is an absolute disgrace. Serving food from a packet is shameful in any restaurant or canteen, but trying to pass it off as “gourmet food” in a 4 star hotel is beyond belief. There must be a lot of profit on serving food from a packet and, in addition, trying to get away with not serving a side included in the price. For shame.

Overall: In my opinion this “restaurant” should be avoided at all costs.

Management have been asked to respond to this review.

Linguini served with a packet of Roma sauce

Linguini served with a packet of Roma sauce




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