Life

Eating Out: The Treehouse, very Grand Designs and with a high level of potential

The Treehouse, Muff, Co Donegal. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
 
Dominic Kearney

The Treehouse

Main Street

Muff

Donegal

Tel (0353) 74 938 4873

treehousebar.ie

IT’S certainly a very impressive building, the Treehouse: light, open, spacious, with soft white walls and lots of warm wood and indoor trees, finished with a lovely stylised tree motif.

A new build, to the right as you leave Muff coming from Derry, it’s all very Grand Designs, but they thankfully managed to get the floor-to-ceiling windows fitted just as winter was looming.

Half the building is a restaurant; the other half is a bar and lounge, with deep leather sofas and tempting alcoves. I think it looks great, modern and stylish and smart, although the three big screens showing the football clanged against the otherwise elegant layout.

We were just there to eat, so Celtic’s drubbing at the hands of Salzburg stayed blurred at the far end of the building.

We went straight into the main course, tempting though the starters looked. In reverse order, then, the fish and chips was disappointing. No issue with the fish, which was generous and meaty, but the batter was soft and listless. The chips, though nicely soft on the inside, were pale and lacking in crunch, and the mushy peas, to this north-of-England boy, at least, didn’t look at all appetising.

Third place goes to the Thai curry. The rice was fluffy and well cooked and the flatbread was lovely and soft. There were plenty of tender chunks of chicken in the sauce but this, while thick and creamy, was maybe just a touch too mild and needed something to give it a bit of heat and kick.

The Treehouse is certainly a very impressive building: light, open, and spacious. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
 

Silver medal goes to the venison. This was really lovely – beautifully rich and dark on the outside, perfectly pink in the middle, its taste enhanced by the sweetly autumnal flavours of the hazelnut crumb, and complemented by the sharp beetroot puree.

First prize must go, however, to the beef short rib. Gosh, this was gorgeous. The meat was cooked to perfection, easing cleanly off the bone almost before I’d picked up my knife. Packed with deep flavour, it was accompanied by earthy celeriac and sweet parsnip, and enriched by a deliciously rich gravy.

My only criticism – and this applies to the venison too – is that they could have been more generous with the sauce.

A quick mention of the side orders. The greens were cooked well and the stealth fries, unlike their triple-cooked cousins, were crisp and tasted great. By the way, if you’re wondering what stealth fries are, they’re skinny chips and not, as I was half expecting to see, just an empty bowl.

Like the mains, the puddings were a bit of a mixed bag. The marshmallow cookie was a bit too sweet, but the fried ice cream – a big scoop of vanilla rolled in fried nuts and cereal – was a nice combination of crunchy and smooth, hot and cold.

The espresso panna cotta came in a bowl, so any wobble went undiscerned. It was creamy and light, but the coffee flavour needed turning up a notch. The brownie was excellent – a good textured top and a not too gooey centre, rich and dark and moreish.

The chocolate pot was almost excellent. It came in three layers – cream on the top, a slab of lemon in the middle, and a well of chocolate ganache at the bottom. The ganache was great but there was far too much lemon, so the citrus took over rather than give just a subtle hint. And more pistachio was needed.

Unsurprisingly, given how short a time it’s been open, it’s not there yet. The staff need a bit more experience – just little things like clearing away properly and providing the right cutlery – the place needs to get used to itself, and the dishes refining, but I think the Treehouse will be terrific, and will be a go-to venue, especially for families and groups out celebrating.

THE BILL

Fish and chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce €13.95

Thai green chicken coconut and coriander curry, flatbreads and rice €17.95

Loin of venison, salted beetroot puree, beetroot crisp, hazelnut crumb, pan jus €21.95

Beef short rib, celeriac puree, caramelised baby parsnip, Bog Hopper IPA gravy €16.95

Sides of triple cooked chips, stealth fries, buttered greens

Treehouse brownie, salted caramel, vanilla ice cream €5.95

Espresso panna cotta, homemade shortbread €5.95

Chocolate pot, chocolate ganache, lemon curd, pistachio €5.95

Marshmallow cookie, fried ice cream €5.95

Total: €94.60 (£86)

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