Life

Eating Out: Rosato's – the atmosphere is warm but the desserts a little cool

Rosato's Bar and Restaurant in Moville, Co Donegal. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Dominic Kearney

Rosato's Bar and Restaurant

7 Malin Road

Moville

Inishowen

Co Donegal

WITH my wife on a late, my brother and I were off out to meet a friend for dinner, taking my daughter with us, to prove to her it is actually possible to talk non-stop for two hours about football, without anyone ever expressing any interest in anyone else's circumstances, personal welfare, or feelings.

It had rained all day, leaving the fields and foliage along the road from Derry to Moville a more intense green than usual, with the purple clusters of the rhododendron flowers in a vivid, garish contrast. Moville itself looked rain-bedraggled, but still its usual cheery self.

Rosato's was all but empty when we arrived, but quickly filled up. Regardless of what the name suggests, it feels like an old-fashioned pub, with white plaster walls crowded with decorative plates, old adverts for Guinness, paintings of local scenes, as well as, a little bizarrely, guitars pinned flat against the low-beamed ceiling.

It was interesting to see the range of customers coming in as we waited for our order to arrive. All mainly coming in to eat, there were couples, young families, friends catching up, colleagues having a bite after work, locals, tourists: it was clear that Rosato's holds a broad appeal.

It was equally clear why. Decent prices, warm, friendly, efficient service, and a menu which makes it easy to find something that'll hit the spot.

That was definitely the case with us. The Thai green chicken curry was good, a generous portion of chicken chunks – perhaps a touch too chewy – in a creamy sauce that built from mild to nicely hot, with fluffy rice and soft naan bread.

I risked the hotpot, which I don't think I've ever seen on an Irish menu before. I say risked: as a Lancashire lad, at least until the boundary changes, hotpot is a dish close to my heart, and my mum used to make the best hotpot known to humankind.

While this could never hope to reach those heights, it gave it a good go. Served in an oval dish, the lovely big cuts of beef were tender and melting, sitting with carrots and celery in a rich, deep, flavoursome gravy, beneath a topping of thinly sliced potato. In fairness, these would have been improved by a little longer in the oven, to crisp them up a bit more, but that's a minor complaint.

Probably the best of the mains was the duo of freshly caught fish – a cod steak and a fillet of sea bass. The skin of the sea bass was done just right, giving a pleasing contrast in texture to the perfectly cooked flesh. The cod, while lacking a bit of seasoning, flaked away with the barest touch, and was beautifully moist, soft but still holding firm. A drizzle of sharp balsamic and a mild, sweet pepper sauce complemented the dish well.

If I have a proper quibble about Rosato's, it'd have to concern the puddings. No issue with the crème brulee. The top, not too thick and with a grown-up toffee taste, cracked cheerfully, revealing delicate custard of just the right sweetness. (It came with a scoop of ice cream about which I can say little, as it was immediately commandeered by my daughter).

As good as the apple pie and waffle were, they were served cold, so the pie crust was too soft and the accompanying custard went cool too quickly, and the waffle squares remained resolutely immune to the ice cream, which should have been melting into them, blending with the caramel sauce.

Just a quibble, though. I was recommended to try Rosato's by a friend who manages a swanky gaff just down the road. He has access to some fine dining, but it's not always what you want. Rosato's isn't necessarily a place for a special occasion but it's more than an occasional place. It's a good bet for good grub, somewhere you can easily become a regular.

THE BILL

Duo of cod and sea bass, red pepper sauce €17.95

Beef hot pot €13.95

Thai green chicken curry, basmati rice, naan bread €15.95

Child's hake goujons, mash €8.50

Selection of vegetables €3.50

Child's ice cream €1.50

Crème brulee €5.95

Apple pie and custard €5.95

Belgian waffle, caramel sauce, ice cream €5.95

Diet Coke €2.40

Total: €81.60 (£71.95)

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