Review: The Cloister, Ennis

The Cloister
Ennis, Co. Clare

The Cloister is a beautiful restaurant which lies within the Ennis Friary Cloistral buildings. The buildings and courtyard date back to medieval times and provide the perfect backdrop to a romantic dinner. During our recent weekend in Ennis, Ali and myself visited The Cloister for dinner and we both agreed, it was the best meal we have had out to date.

I booked The Cloister on the morning of our meal and was a little disappointed to be told that the restaurant was fully booked but, if we still wished, we could be seated in the bar area. Having read numerous good reviews we decided that it was the food that was most important and so went ahead. I needn’t have been disappointed however, the bar is as nice as any restaurant I have been in and was also full of diners, creating a cosy atmosphere with lots of chat. The first point to make about this restaurant is that the hosting and service is absolutely flawless. I have never been made to feel as welcome and at no point did the warmth seem over the top or fake. We were seated by the host and immediately approached by a waiter with menus, who proceeded to talk us through the specials.

For starter I went for the special: Duck Ravioli. I was a little skeptical of the dish before tasting as it contained ginger, chilli and spring onion. As a big fan of Italian cooking I am sometimes blinkered as to what goes well with what but this worked fantastically well. The Ravioli were delicate and perfectly cooked while the duck contained within was tender and delicious. The broth was also excellent with just the right amount of heat from the chilli. An excellent dish. Ali went for the other special, Seafood Chowder. Upon finishing the Chowder Ali exclaimed it to be the best thing she has ever eaten. We didn’t realise it at the time but this Chowder won silver in the Schweppes Chowder World Cook Off in Rhode Island in 2011. Impressive!

Starter: 9/10

For mains I chose the Pan Roast Rump of Lamb with puy lentil, smoked bacon and celeriac, port reduction. Another superb dish. I ordered the lamb medium-rare and it arrived exactly that. It was succulent, well seasoned and matched perfectly by the lentils and port reduction. The lentils were my particular highlight and I would happily eat a big plate of them with nothing else. We recieved some potato and vegetables between us and everything was delicious although the vegetables were possibly a little too soft for my tastes. That is an exceptionally finicky point though, I couldn’t go a full review without just one slight negative!

Mains: 9/10

Instead of dessert I went for the Sheridan’s Cheese Choice. I wasn’t in the mood for anything sweet and so this proved the perfect way to round out the meal. On the board was a smoked Gubeen, a Blue and a Cheddar with crackers, apple slices, some fig nougat (i think) and a little pear puree. It was exceptional. The apple provided a great hit of freshness especially against the blue while the pear cut through everything, bringing all the cheese to life. A wonderful way to end the meal. My espresso was also top notch, although I may have preferred a more bitter type on another evening.
Dessert: 9/10

I spoke a little about the service earlier and the only thing to add is that if I was ever to decide to open a restaurant, I would send my staff to The Cloister to see how it’s done. It was flawless.
Service: 10/10

For the standard of food and service on offer, The Cloister was exceptional value. We paid €99.90 for an A la Carte meal with: 2 starters, 2 mains, 1 dessert, 1 cheeseboard, 1 glass of White Wine, 2 glasses of Red Wine, 1 espresso and 1 tea.
Value: 9/10
Ambiance: 8/10

Overall: 9/10 Highly Recommended

The Cloister,
Abbey Street,
Co. Clare
(065) 6868198

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