Friday, July 15, 2011

Lunch at O'Brien Chop House, Lismore

After a drive through Wexford and Waterford, dodging speed cameras and marvelling at the beauty of the Waterford bypass, we drove into the heritage town of Lismore.  It’s one of the most scenic little towns I’ve ever seen in Ireland – we had seen photos of Lismore Castle at a photographic exhibition in Temple Bar a few months ago but the images didn’t do it justice.  It soars over the road in majestic splendour and reminded me of one of the towns we drive through in France with beautiful chateaux and bridges.

But we weren’t there to look at the Castle, we were there to begin our whistlestop tour of Waterford in style with lunch at O’Brien Chop House.  It’s located on Main Street (with plenty of free parking available on South Mall just around the corner).  From the street, it just looks like an old fashioned pub shopfront, although in beautiful muted paint colours.  Once you enter, you’re transported back to the pub your grandad used to drink in – it has been beautifully and sympathetically restored – and the restaurant proper is at the back, almost like a Tardis.

Richard the manager seated us at a lovely table opposite the service hatch (all the better to see the kitchen with), set with pretty blue willow pattern plates.  Two types of breads and a pat of Glenilen Farm butter arrived on a wooden plank to stave off the hunger pangs while we ordered from the €20 set menu.  As usual we negotiated who was having what and sat back and watched the staff hard at work.   The restaurant was booked solid with families and groups of friends having a convivial lunch and the kitchen staff were certainly under pressure but we never heard a raised voice, a broken plate or any sign of stress.  

I ordered the Endive & herb salad with soft boiled egg, anchovies & parmesan while The Hubs chose the Skeaghanore duck rillettes with pickled vegetables to start.  They were delicious - usually The Hubs would do anything to avoid anchovies but he kept stealing them from my plate.  His Rillettes were absolutely perfect with the crunchy toast.  Plates were rapidly emptied and we almost forgot we had main courses still to come...

This time around, the pork was mine - a pan-fried Ballyvolane House Saddleback chop with an apple & onion jam and a thyme sauce.  The Hubs ordered the Supreme of Cappoquin chicken with mustard mash & a lemon cream sauce.  We basically split the plates 50/50 because they were both equally gorgeous.  They arrived with some local new potatoes and very tender greens.

At this stage, we admitted defeat - we were absolutely stuffed and couldn't manage dessert or even coffee.  A stroll around the town and the beautiful St. Carthage's Cathedral was the only cure for our indulgence.  So, would I recommend O'Brien Chop House?  Absolutely.  Dedicated, enthusiastic happy staff, very talented chefs in the kitchen, the best of locally sourced produce and a beautiful restaurant - what's not to love?  My only regret is that we don't live closer...


  1. Lovely first-hand recommendation, for what sounds like a really friendly and good value reataurant. Chef friend of ours has started using Skeaghanore Duck and swears by the flavour. Marking O'Brien's Chophouse down on our "must visit" list.

  2. Colette, I was showing The Hubs the post & all he said was "that was gorgeous - nicest food I've had in ages and Richard was so nice". I'd love to go back for lunch, and dinner AND Sunday lunch!!

  3. Sounds like a lovely place and for the right price. Your photos are lovely and the food does look very appetising. Nice to have a recommendation if we ever get over to the lower east side of the island.

  4. Justin here - owner of O'Brien Chop House & Ballyvolane House. Thank you for reviewing and I'm delighted you had such a good time. We have a fantastic team our front and in the kitchens. The vegetables you were eating were all grown by my father in the walled-garden at Ballyvolane House.

    Thanks again and please keep in touch.


  5. Love the Chop House. Richard is a fantastic host. Wish we lived closer, too.

  6. What a great place. And how nice of the owner to leave you a message too. Great customer service!

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    2. Thanks so much for your kind words.