Even the expert designers who dreamed up the Lough Erne Resort could not have pictured a more enchanting evening as we pulled up at the Loughside Bar and Grill on a hot June evening.
The high windows in the chandeliered restaurant provided glimpses of the mirror flat Castle Hume Lough, and tree heavy Fermanagh hills wading their feet in the waters that were only slightly diminished by the droves of sun-crispened golfing buddies at the bar.
The elegant country house style resort is renowned as a golfer’s paradise, but even on a sparkling early summer evening, the lush grounds felt so peaceful and secluded you could be fooled into thinking you were a world leader on a reclusive summit meeting.
There are few landscapes more serene and dignified than a well manicured golf course emptied completely of golfers and their buggies.
It might be a while since Vladimir Putin famously ordered a pineapple smoothie when the resort hosted the G8 summit in 2013, but with its own 600-acre peninsula and a long sweeping drive, a visit to the resort can still give visitors delusions of being able to bestow world peace.
However, the newly relaunched grill specialises in prime Irish meats with a selection of steaks and seafood, and doesn’t rely on diners being distracted by the almost mythical views of mist shrouded islands and hills.
Since taking over at the resort, Toomebridge chef Noel McMeel has introduced his own particular brand of modern Irish cooking, finding the best local suppliers to inspire his chefs.
The former Executive Head Chef at Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan is obsessed with finding, preparing and serving fresh food in season.
My dining companion and I opted for the breaded Boilie goat’s cheese with pickled beetroot, kelp pesto and rocket leaves as a starter. The cheese was rich and tangy and wonderfully complemented by the sharper beetroot and kelp flavours.
For the main, we chose the £50 Tomahawk Kettyle’s steak (serves two), a simple but beautifully prepared slab of meat with the bone attached, which arrrived garnished with tomatoes on the vine and basil, as well as a selection of rich sauces.
The flavour of the dry-aged beef with a well-judged char on the outside and perfectly pink on the inside matched the views - spectacular. The sauces were also lip-smackingly good.
We were served by a dedicated and enthusiastic team of waiting staff, who were more than willing to give helpful tourist tips about the grounds and the wider locality.
In all, fine cuisine in a grand setting making the most of local flavours and scenery.