The Fatted Calf
Feargal and Fiona O’Donnell are two of the most important restaurateurs in recent Irish culinary history. Whilst others were moving to the cities and the coast, they pioneered running Midlands destinations which offered excellent food, service and value. In the original Fatted Calf, in Glasson village, their secret was – in the words of Elizabeth Field – “It looks like a country pub from the outside, and it’s got typical pub ambiance and cosiness – but the food is mind-blowing.” And that has always been Feargal and Fiona’s secret: they over-deliver. And, as Liz Field said: “Feargal O’Donnell extracts maximum flavor from his ingredients.” The Fatted Calf offers Dublin 2 cooking, but in the Midlands, at Midlands prices, and with that relaxed Midlands vibe and charm and that understated elegance that means you are at your ease from the moment you walk through the door. The cooking is serene, but robust – you can start with crispy pig’s ears and have the John Stone steak special, and you won’t get better carnivorous eating – but Mr O’Donnell has all the modern signatures under full control – the chicken skin with mushroom and artichoke risotto; the prawn wontons with lemongrass satay; the 14-hour pork belly with pine nut picada. Fiona looks after the room with quiet assurance, and a good time for all is guaranteed.