Nestled in a most picturesque location on the banks of the River Shannon in Athlone, the newly renovated Radisson Blu Hotel offers its visitors a taste of luxury and style in a truly relaxing environment.
The Radisson’s Elements Bistro restaurant is the ideal location to sit down and unwind over a creative, regionally inspired meal, and I was lucky enough to be invited along recently to sample its new menu.
I am greeted warmly on arrival by Aideen O’Flynn, sales and marketing director at Radisson Blu. She is welcoming and personable, immediately putting me at ease as she leads me on a tour of the newly renovated and very impressive lobby and bar areas, before showing me to the bistro.
From there I am left in the hands of my host for the afternoon, Avril Kiernan. Friendly service forms an all-important part of the all-round Radisson offering, and it certainly adds an extra something to the experience.
The restaurant itself is an elegantly designed space with décor inspired by the four elemental themes of water, fire, earth, and air. Illuminated glass panels, wave-shaped room dividers, and aquamarine-upholstered dining chairs create a water theme, while the central island hearth captures the fire element.
Earth is mirrored through the well-lit bamboo screens and sand-coloured upholstered chairs, and the air element is manifested by creating a sense of spaciousness with white light, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open-plan layout.
Bread and a bottle of chilled water are placed on the table as I wait, and I am soon greeted by none other than the sous chef himself, Justin Browne. Justin continues the trend of friendly service. He is a treasure trove of information, and I decide to leave the choice of dishes I am about to sample in his reliable hands.
A selection of immaculately presented starters soon arrives. First up is a portion of homemade vegetable soup, seasoned to perfection. Clonakilty black pudding croquette follows, wrapped in golden crumb and served with apple gel and Ballymaloe relish. The relish brings the entire dish together and gives it a certain exuberance. It is not overly spicy, but just right.
Next up is goats cheese and beetroot carpaccio: pickled beetroot carpaccio, creamed goats cheese, candied walnuts, and micro herb salad. The dish encompasses a variety of rich tastes, but ones that complement each other so well. The candied walnuts provide a burst of sweetness that lingers after. This is an incredibly well-balanced dish.
Pan-seared scallops are served with cauliflower purée, pickled cauliflower, and apple and truffle oil salsa. The scallops offer a smoky, charcoal flavour, as well as an explosion of juice when bitten into.
Next is an all-time personal favourite: half roast crispy duck with steamed pak choi and honey soy glaze. This is a dish that has so much going for it. The meat is soft and tender, the skin crispy and soaked in honey soy glaze to give some extra flavour. This is a meal that will bring people back to Elements Bistro again and again.
Last but by no means least comes grilled Atlantic hake served with sea samphire, baby vegetables, and tomato and rosemary sauce. This bright and colourful dish is immaculately presented, and the good news is that it tastes just as healthy as it looks. If you are looking for something light but incredibly tasty, then this is the choice for you.
The meal is rounded off with a selection of delicious desserts: chocolate, walnut and raspberry brownie is served with warm chocolate sauce, cookies and ice cream; homemade banoffee pie topped with whipped cream and served with rum and raisin ice-cream; and granola passionfruit cheesecake with fruit coulis and vanilla ice cream.
To say I leave the restaurant satisfied would be a massive understatement. This is a chef and establishment passionate about delivering wholesome, delicious, and healthy food. A return trip is certainly on the cards.
The Radisson’s Elements restaurant is vegan and vegetarian friendly. There is also a list of carefully selected wines to complement the food on offer.
The Radisson Blu Hotel is located on Northgate Street, Athlone, and is the ideal location for dinner with friends and family, for weddings, communions, christenings, birthdays, business meetings, or any other special event you might have in mind.
For further information or to make a booking call (090 ) 6442600 or email [email protected].
Crispy duck with steamed pak choi and honey soy glaze
Goats cheese and beetroot carpaccio