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OverviewThe Lemon Tree is a family run restaurant in Letterkenny along Donegal’s Wild Atlantic Way. The style of cooking is modern Irish and menus are seasonal. Dishes use as many ingredients as possible from the island of Ireland, particularly Donegal.
‘Family run’ are words we love to hear at Good Food Ireland. That unique hands-on touch and personal attention adds a special element to an offering of good local food.
At The Lemon Tree in Letterkenny, ‘family’ is the buzzword. You’ll meet hostess Linda Molloy out front and catch a glimpse of her brothers Thomas, Gary, and Euro-Toques chef Christopher in the open kitchen. All of them are young and dynamic – they’ve grown up here in the restaurant they have owned and run since 1999. Linda explains this is a real family venture, where the siblings have grown up together and learned the hard way about working in the restaurant business. She knows her regulars well and manages the floor with style and grace.
The Lemon Tree dining room has a chic feel, with linen clad tables and neutral colour scheme giving a contemporary look. Evenings are very cosy and intimate, yet this is the sort of place you can go for a gathering with friends or family, or a romantic date, and you won’t feel one bit out of place. The kitchen is a focal point in the room. Chefs can be seen working through the hatch. Customers like to be able to meet the folk who are making their food.
The kitchen at Lemon Tree is the domain of Gary, Thomas and Christopher. Christopher has been cooking here since he was thirteen. A true old fashioned way to learn your trade, as often happens in France and Italy. And what a bundle of energy he is – enthusiastic but unassuming. When he’s not busy concocting new and exciting dishes for the restaurant, he’s out visiting some of the best restaurants in Ireland for inspiration. He’s a natural. Older brother Gary is another self-taught cook, who makes all the breads for the restaurant. Get into a discussion with him about sourdough and you could be there for hours. What he doesn’t know about dough isn’t worth knowing.
Christopher says proudly ‘there is no Head Chef here. We work together and everyone knows what everyone else does.’
Expect a good smattering of local and seasonal ingredients on the menu, laid out in simple terms. The Molloys grow their own potatoes and use a Letterkenny suppliers for other vegetables and salads. Fish and shellfish are highlights, as is the seasonal game in the colder months. Diners can look forward to such delights as Organic Mulroy Bay Mussels, Ballyholey Farm Beetroot and Noone Farm Chicken.
There is a great selection of well priced house wines by glass and bottle and an international selection of classics. There’s also Irish craft beer from the Kinnegar Brewing list of Farmhouse Beers from Donegal.
This restaurant could happily sit in any major city, but it’s here in pretty Letterkenny where the beauty of the Donegal region provides a wonderful backdrop, and terrific ingredients to great food.
At the Lemon Tree Restaurant, fresh produce, shellfish, fish and seasonal game all grace the menu. The restaurant uses as many ingredients as possible from the island of Ireland, particularly Donegal.
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