I ducked into the Corner House Bistro at 3PM on a rain-swept Friday, thinking I could find a dry corner and some warm soup. I was surprised to discover there was just one seat available and then delighted to enjoy the best lunch I've ever enjoyed in Ireland. Four different people looked after me at separate intervals--not counting the two chefs I could see through the kitchen hatch. I chose the Corner House because I had read previous reviews moaning about the price of the menu items. I know you can find a quick lunch in Athlone at half the price but the difference is in the quality of the food and the comfort of the setting. The butternut squash soup was a perfect antidote to the windy weather outside. Its layered flavours suggested a chef who knows how to create a remarkable taste from locally-sourced stock. A framed citation on the wall told me the Corner House has won several awards for its soup and bread. I also enjoyed pan fried scallops and tiger prawns. This clever creation came with a slice of Horan's Black Pudding, drizzled strawberries, and creamed potatoes with a subtle (perhaps cauliflower) puree. The potatoes were artistically formed in a slender fish-like shape, topped off with a crisp paper thin fin of a rasher. The dish was both visually appealing and a courageous fusion of textures and flavours. I plan to return to the Corner House Bistro with my family because this was a memorable first class experience for me.
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