The Tap Room, Rathmullan House, Donegal

Archive - all the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

One of the greatest success stories in Irish restaurant history happened as a result of an unusual and unpredictable alliance of three mighty talents.
When Roly Saul, John O'Sullivan and chef Colin O'Daly opened Roly's Bistro in Ballsbridge, on Wednesday, November 11th, 1992, the surprise was not that the room was so smart and the ambition so steep, it was the unlikeliness of these three guys working together. All came from wildly different backgrounds, yet the fusion of their respective skills meant that Roly's hit the ground running, creating a new paradigm of restaurant success for the capital.
Travel to the far north of Donegal, and a new restaurant paradigm, based on the collaboration of three mighty talents, is taking place right now. The Tap Room, at Rathmullan House, fuses the hospitality of Mark Wheeler of Rathmullan with the pizzas of Kemal Scarpello of the Slow Food Co., and the craft beers of Rick le Vert of the Kinnegar Brewing Company. The pizzas and beers hail from close physical proximity to Rathmullan, but uniting together in the Tap Room allows the trinity to show that their symbiosis is not merely geographical: it is, somehow, magical. After they lowered the pizza oven into the basement last easter and got everything up and running, they very soon found that 200 people a day were turning up for beer and pizza. Of course, you want to know what is the favourite pizza of all these people, and the answer is: The Spaniard – slow roast tomato; Irish mozzarella; sweet peppers; spicy chorizo; caramelised onions.
And what would you drink with a Spaniard? Why, it has to be a Devil's Backbone, of course.
Why has the Tap Room met with such acclaim? Well, the beers are superb, the pizzas are benchmark, and the informality of the set-up – pizza and beer in a country house?! – suits the unpretentious nature of Rathmullan, one of those grand houses that actually isn't grand at all. The Tap Room Trinity works precisely because it is so unlikely, and Irish food lovers have shown themselves increasingly to be people who cherish the unexpected, the unpredictable and the unpretentious. Unexpected. Unpredictable. Unpretentious. And Delicious.
That will do nicely.

Read more in Megabites...