Chop House, Lismore

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  • O'Brien's Chop House

Eamon Barrett enjoys seeing Justin and Jenny Green get it right. Again.

Over the years I have found that it pays not to have pre-conceptions in this job.
Over enthusiasm inevitably leads to disappointment; underlying suspicion is often cast aside with pleasant surprise. But with Justin Green's announcement of the opening of the old Barca premises in Lismore as O'Briens Chop House I couldn't help but feel that tingle of anticipation that something was going to be good; very good.

And I wasn't wrong.

The premises has been left largely untouched bar, as Justin says, "a lick of paint". The lovely old marble counter and tongue in groove panelling along the bar all makes for very pleasant surroundings to enjoy a glass of prosecco. Through to the dining room, it's all just spot on and discreet good taste abounds with good art, understated furnishings and a lovely set of French doors leading out into a lush green garden.

The menu offers a great choice of simple dishes at great prices and mains focus heavily on meat, as you'd expect with a butcher of the quality of Michael McGrath just accross the street.
Devilled lambs kidneys on toast for me at E6.20 were just knock out - the absolute essential with kidneys is to get them as fresh as possible and there was no doubt that these were just that. A tiny kick of chilli in the sauce was perfectly judged. J's ham hock terrine with apple, raisin, chutney and toast was a real masculine example, great chunks of hock meat for just E5.75.

There were so many dishes from the mains list we wanted to try: McGraths mixed lamb grill with chips; pan seared pork chop with champ; steak and kidney pie. I really wanted the McGrath's hanger steak with baked bone marrow, bearnaise sauce and chips but my better half prevailed and we ordered the Porterhouse Steak for two - all 1KG of it - with chips and bearnaise. What a piece of meat it was, served on a thick wooden board between us, two jugs of bearnaise and two silver tankards of chips. Those chips turned out to be the only - slight - disappointment of the evening, not just hitting that perfect texture and taste that a really good chip delivers. I should mention the Porterhouse is not cheap at E72.00 for the two of us but it was an incredible piece of meat.

Desserts were summery and sharp: gooseberry and elderflower mess for me and summer berry trifle for J. - at E5.70 each, very good value. Good coffees, friendly and well trained staff, everything well handled. A great new addition to Lismore.