Fire-warmed pubs, 1920s-style cafés and dining rooms that are the epitome of contemporary elegance, there’s a lot to discover around Carrick-on-Shannon
The one thing you notice on menus around Carrick-on-Shannon and the River Shannon – provenance is a big deal around here. Leitrim and Roscommon locals are clearly foodies at heart and a farm-to-fork ethos flows from pubs to cafés to fine-dining hotspots. And it’s not hard to see why. The undulating countryside is a patchwork of grassy fields that produce top-notch dairy and beef. Restaurant-wise, you’re in for a treat, too, with an ever-evolving culinary scene that takes in everything from classic stalwarts to Asian-fusion gems overlooking swirling waters. Are you ready to get stuck in?
The Oarsman, Carrick-on-Shannon
You'd better book ahead for a table in the Oarsman as it's an enduring favourite with both locals and visitors. Inside, it feels like a traditional pub with chunky wooden furniture and a stone floor, but the food is something else. Creative, delicious and generously portioned, this is a top spot for a gourmet feast and is a multiple award-winner to boot. Nightly musicians keep things lively without being overbearing, while the staff will make sure you're well looked after.
Vitto's Restaurant and Bar, Carrick-on-Shannon
Don't expect the usual Italian flavours at Vittos! While this family favourite does certainly give a nod to classic dishes such as lasagne and Bolognese, they also go entertainingly off-script with a mash-up of flavours from peri-peri chicken spaghetti to a Texan-style pizza. Friendly, fun and flavoursome, Vitto's is a definite crowd-pleaser.
The Cottage, Jamestown
When it comes to great locations, the Cottage has it nailed. Set on the side of the road in a pretty whitewashed cottage with red trim, this tiny local restaurant boasts fine views out over the water and feels like the very definition of a local gem. And then there's the food. Here, you won't find the usual line-up of contemporary classics; instead Chef Sham Hanifa mixes things up with a feisty blend of Asian flavours and Irish and European ingredients – and it works. Book ahead and enjoy the seamless choreography of east meets west with dishes such as sirloin of Irish Hereford beef with Langkawi-style slow-cooked ox cheek and spiced beef kebab.
King House Tea Rooms, Boyle
Set just inside the entrance gates to King House on Military Road in Boyle, this is a great port of call for foodies in search of a fine lunch. The newly renovated light-filled rooms overlook the elegant Georgian King House so grab a table by the window and take your time over a great line-up of salads, sandwiches and hot dishes. The sun-filled outdoor tables are just the ticket during the summer, too.
This lively little waterside pub in the village of Termonbarry has a steady stream of local devotees who pack it out nightly during the summer months. Inside, the rich wooden interior is the kind of place you could happily spend hours while the bright, airy outdoor space is perfect for those endless summer nights. Food-wise, the menu covers classics such as steaks and supreme of chicken, as well as roasted salmon and cauliflower steaks.
The hearty steaks at Cox's have made it a firm favourite with local cruisers, who drop in to re-fuel at lunch or dinner. Just a few minutes' walk from the harbour in the pretty village of Dromod, Cox's focuses on what they describe as "the steak experience", but also covers classics such as chicken Maryland, roast dinners, lasagne and catch of the day. Kids are well catered for, and the full Irish breakfast is guaranteed to set you up for the day.
Boyle Farmers Market
This award-winning Saturday farmers market, which takes place in the scenic grounds of King House from 10am to 2pm, is an ideal place to get the lowdown on local artisan fare. With stalls offering everything from organic vegetables, to jams, to home-bakes and cheeses, the market offers the perfect chance to talk to the people behind the produce.