Based here in the village of Muff, Co. Donegal I enjoy nothing more that wrapping myself amidst a little piece of culture at every turn – be it a good book, trip to the theater, music and more. I’m also a coffee lover and I’m someone who really enjoys eating out. If there’s a new coffee shop on the horizon, I’m there. A new restaurant etc.
So it was with great anticipation that I awaited the opening of the North West’s newest restaurant right here in my very own home village of Muff. Local business family, the McGonigle’s embarked upon this venture earlier this year and everyone has been eagerly awaiting its’ opening. Just over two years ago, Tank and Skinny’s coffee shop opened its doors, and it’s become a real hub for the village. We are fortunate to have a cafe and a number of take-aways right here, but a restaurant for fine-dining was much needed. The Treehouse is that very restaurant.
Having visited the premises just a few hours prior to opening last Friday evening I was hugely impressed with the tasteful design within. It really is a Treehouse with a difference. With stunning contemporary artwork, contemporary and traditional seating, contemporary and traditional tiles and upholstery, and lights that do bedazzle you, this will take your breath away as you take it all in. And of course there are trees within which help continue the ‘treehouse’ theme to match the name, throughout.
Being a literary enthusiast The Treehouse immediately won me over with it’s wonderfully warm welcome from WB.Yeats as you go through that front door. Further into the building you will find words from Brian Friel on another wall. Even the simple WC design with the lettering seems to continue that literary theme. And of course with a poem inside the Drinks menu penned by bar manager Shaun Gallagher, the literary theme is endless. And so this North West Cultural Gal was smitten even before tasting that food.
I waited until Saturday night to try the much awaited meal in The Treehouse restaurant. i had a small platter during my visit on the Friday and it was divine, so the meal was very looked forward to. On the night, myself, himself, my little brother and his wife (home from Birr), all ventured to there for dinner. I had already viewed the menu and had my main course chosen. I was going for that ‘pan fried hake.’
As we entered The Treehouse on Saturday night, it was clear to see that business was booming on this, their second night of business. We were very aware that we might be very unlucky and not get a table. We approached the General Manager Chris Armstrong who informed us that if we just order a drink at the bar, a table would be ready shortly. And it was.
As we sat down, it was lovely to be able to see into that all important kitchen area. It was a hive of activity, with head chef Kiefer McConnellogue at the helm. Although with a packed restaurant there did seem to be calm and composure amongst all those kitchen staff.
We were then introduced to our server for the evening who was a young local girl, named Caoimhe. She was pleasant, competent and very attentive. Huge thanks Caoimhe for such great service throughout the night.
So, the food. A selection of starters were ordered. Myself, I had the Treehouse Turf smoked chicken Caesar salad. This was delicious and that chicken just melted in the mouth. Definitely a starter I would have again. My main was the ‘Pan fired Hake – served with cauliflower puree, tender stem broccoli and pickled almonds.’ My brother had this same dish and we both agreed that it was the best piece of fish we have each had for some time. The hake was salty but not too much. Those pickled almonds just added an extra texture and flavour, and were sublime. There was a sauce (hint of lemon I doth think) underneath that hake which tempted me back to childhood and the possibility of licking that plate. This was served with my chosen ‘baby boiled potatoes’ which were cooked to perfection. To say it was an enjoyable main course would be an understatement. The steak, and fish and chips were also very enjoyed at the table.When himself complements a steak, it’s good!
A Saturday night does not normally involve dessert, but on Saturday last, we just couldn’t resist. And so that ‘Expresso Panna Cotta with shortbread’ was ordered. Not a lover of shortbread but an avid lover of panna cotta, I was first of all sharing that shortbread as my companions just had to taste. It wasn’t sweet and hard like most, this was gingery and flaky. It was yum. And as for that Expresso
Panna Cotta, it was dessert heaven. Also enjoyed at the table was the ‘Toasted Marshmallow cookie – with deep fried ice-cream (that ice-cream was tried, tasted and given seal of approval by us all), and the selection of ice-cream. Desserts went down a treat, mirroring the previous two courses.
Having coffee and a herbal tea, we were ready to view the bill.
Caoimhe was on hand all night and did an excellent job of service, but could she do the same with the bill? Again, a pleasant surprise awaited. We were all equally impressed with the total on that bill and all agreed what great value for money we had just eaten. It was a win-win dining experience from beginning to end.
This gal is not a food critic, but this gal does know a good meal and definitely knows good service when she gets it. The food on Saturday night at The Treehouse was tasty, colourful, exceptionally well presented, and very affordable. That’s a 5 out of 5 from me. Many thanks to Kiefer and all his team for this amazing first dinner – I’d say a few more will be had over the coming weeks.
The Treehouse Bar area is large, spacious, and very comfortable. As we settled for a glass of wine after dinner, we were able to sit in the quite nook just inside the door. It allows a private space, and one where we really were able to sit and review the food just eaten. It was done with smiles all round. There is a variety of seating areas, nooks and crannies in the bar area. You can have the comfort of the chesterfield sofas, the casual seat on the large mustard pouffe stools, sit back in the raised area over-looking the beer garden or take a seat at the bar. There’s a seat for everyone, and it’s a comfortable one at that.
With a table-service provision, this is a rather relaxed, laid back area where you really can just switch off from the real world outside. You don’t even need to get up and go to the bar. Now that is a very positive plus for myself. It will be extremely convenient on our ‘ladies’ nights out in the coming months.
As we left The Treehouse on Saturday night, live music was playing in the bar. The dining room was still a hive of activity. The bar was awash with people enjoying their Saturday night.
With culture very much at the fore for myself, a family-friendly, community friendly, a village-friendly restaurant is certainly a welcomed addition to this North West region. Food is very much at the center of Irish culture in the contemporary world, so being able to enjoy such without going far from home, is so very welcomed.
Yeats once wrote, “I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree.” I don’t think WB will mind my saying that I plan to, ‘arise and go now, and go to The Treehouse.’
The Treehouse is situated just outside Muff village (on the Moville side). www.treehousebar.ie