BY SEÁN P. FEENY
A LONGFORD-based fine dining restaurant led by an affable and very successful Donegal chef has been named Restaurant Of The Year 2014 award by one of Ireland’s leading independent hospitality guides.
Gary O’Hanlon’s VM @ Viewmount Country House, Longford Town, received the award on Tuesday from Georgina Campbell Guides, a family-run, hospitality guide and cookbook publishers with a big reputation specialising in Irish food, hospitality and travel.
The Ramelton native and his team were invited to the Bord Bia headquarters in Dublin where they were presented with the award.
Gary said: “We knew when the invitation to the reception came through that we had won something, but we never realised it was the big one, until we got there; we had no idea and it was really overhwelming.
“Year on year things just keep getting better for us. I remember in our first few months doing Sunday lunches for 3, 6 and 10 people maybe and now we are booked up every Sunday.
“This award was definitely the icing on the cake for us this year and now we have our first Michelin star firmly in our sites, that is our main goal.”
Here’s what Georgina Campbell had to say about VM @ Viewmount Country House:
‘Smart-casual dining may be very on-trend, but fine dining is far from dead. This year’s awards shortlist proved yet again that many of the country’s most creative chefs are continuing to produce sublime classical food in the fine dining style – and the Restaurant of the Year is an exceptional example.
This is a restaurant which is much more than the sum of its parts. Since opening in 2008 it has made a midlands town a destination for food lovers throughout Ireland, and beyond – changing the image of the area and creating employment, both directly and indirectly.
Its setting, in four acres of beautiful wooded gardens, is lovely and the gardens alone merit a visit. Suppliers are credited with pride and the cooking is outstanding, with all the little niceties observed – yet the best thing about this elegant and atmospheric restaurant is that it’s in no way intimidating.
Classically linen clad tables, professionalism and smart service are tempered by warmth and friendliness, so the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, and everything – the menus, cooking style, presentation, portion sizes, pricing – is perfectly judged to please local diners just as much as those who have made it a destination.
The teamwork is exemplary and any visit to this delightful restaurant is sure to be a memorable experience. This is fine dining with a difference and its success is well deserved.‘
A barber by trade, Marty has worked in Gerry’s Barbers on Letterkenny’s Main Street for the past 17 years.