Monday 25 September 2017

Lucinda O'Sullivan with Champagne, music and great, great food

Champagne, music and great, great food. With the New Year falling on a weekend, there's never been a better time, says Lucinda O'Sullivan, to let others do the work while you party

There is so much shopping, preparation, cooking and partying in the lead up to and over Christmas, that I always feel the women of Ireland deserve a break immediately afterwards. This year, as New Year's Eve falls on a Saturday, you have the perfect excuse to make a lovely weekend of it -- or a good night out, at least.

If Brazil is your thing, you don't have to head for South America, just to South Kerry. The Brehon hotel in Killarney is having a Brazilian Ball this New Year's Eve, turning the hotel into samba central, dishing up the caipirinha, my favourite cocktail, and bringing the Caipirinha Band from Brazil. Capoeira dancers will kick off the evening and head chef Mike Hayes will create a great Brazilian buffet. From €229 pps; ball-only, €65. Tel: (064) 6630-700.

Also in Killarney, the cool Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa has one- and two-night packages from €175 pp, including a New Year's Eve Gala Dinner in the Lake Room restaurant, with a glass of bubbly at midnight, as well as live entertainment and dancing. A gorgeous, gorgeous place. Tel: (064) 663-1766.

In Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, you can ring out the old in true Downton Abbey country-house splendour at the fabulous Mount Juliet Hotel. Their New Year's Eve Black Tie Ball kicks off with drinks, followed by dinner in the Lady Helen restaurant overlooking the River Nore, then dancing in grandiose surroundings. Bed, breakfast and ball from €250pps. Tel: (056) 777-3000.

In Cork, the River Lee Hotel has a good value New Year's Eve offering for those who want a more informal evening. They promise a sumptuous five-course dinner served in the Weir Bistro, with a Kir royale included, at €55pp. Choose your own dining time, and then adjourn to the Weir Bar for live music from Trilogy until late, and a New Year's countdown. Stay in a superior room for an extra €55pps B&B. Tel: (021) 425-2700.

The superb five-star Hayfield Manor, also in Cork, host their annual New Year's Eve Black Tie Gala Ball with an eight-course menu and live band at €150 pp. Packages including the ball are from €258 pps for one night. Tel: (021) 484-5900.

In Kinsale, you can have two nights B&B in either the Blue Haven Hotel or the Old Bank Town House, with dinner in the fine-dining restaurant of the Blue Haven on New Year's Eve for €180pps, with live music in the bar. Tel: (021) 477-2209.

The City of The Tribes will be in full festive spirit. At the Park House Hotel on Eyre Square they have a lavish four-course gourmet dinner at €63 pp, which includes Champagne at midnight, live music and dancing until late. A two-night accommodation package including the above is €229pps. Car parking is also included. Tel: (091) 564-924.

Also in Galway, at one of the country's hottest restaurants, Aniar, they have a superb tasting menu for New Year's Eve with a Prosecco reception for €45 pp; gorgeous food, with a hint of Noma. Think of kicking off with scallops, oysters, dillisk and smoked potato. Tel: (091) 535-947.

A visit to Mayo's Ashford Castle is special at any time, and they do have great-value winter breaks. Their New Year's Eve Two Night Experience is fabulous, with lots of activities. Arrive to mulled wine, then chill out before glamming up for the Drawing Room cocktail party at 7pm hosted by Niall Rochford, general manager. Dinner is a black-tie affair in the George V Dining Room, with champagne and liqueurs at midnight, followed by entertainment in the Drawing Room. New Year's Day sees a Buck's Fizz brunch running from 10am to 2pm, with a Stableford golf competition, or a musical boat trip on the Corrib, aboard the Lady Ardilaun. Then there is dinner followed by a singalong and entertainment in the Dungeon Bar. Two nights from €750pps; one night -- New Year's Eve -- from €447.50pps. Tel: (094) 954-6003.

Further west, Renvyle House Hotel is a great place for a good night -- it has packages ranging from one to three nights from €160pps, including pre-dinner canapes, a five-course gala dinner, Champagne to ring in 2012, and a live band, followed by a disco. Tel: (095) 43511.

In the midlands, in Longford, Viewmount House has a two-night package with a five-course gourmet dinner on New Year's Eve in their VM restaurant at €350 for two people sharing. Good food here, too, from chef Gary O'Hanlon. Tel: (043) 334-1919.

In Limerick, at the beautiful Georgian boutique hotel, No 1 Pery Square Hotel & Spa, which has an excellent brasserie, for €129pps you can stay overnight, enjoy a four-course dinner on New Year's Eve, including wine to the value of €30, then ring in the New Year with a glass of bubbly in their Park Room Lounge. Enjoy a late breakfast on New Year's Day, followed by access to their thermal suite and a taster treatment each at the Spa at No 1 and complimentary late checkout until 2pm. Tel: (061) 402-402.

Finally, in dear old Dublin, at Restaurant FortyOne in Residence Members Club on St Stephen's Green, they have a top-notch menu by chef Graham Neville at €100 pp to include a Champagne reception and pre-dinner canapes. Tel: (01) 662-0000.

For their New Year's Eve offering, Saba, Clarendon Street, which serves Thai and Vietnamese food, promises a Champagne cocktail on arrival, a four-course meal including tea/coffee and petit fours, followed by a DJ and loads of party stuff. €49.50 pp. Tel: (01) 679-2000.

For a fun, budget New Year's Eve, Dublin's newest pop-up restaurant The Pyg Cafe in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre on South William St -- which offers a multi-cultural array of great-value dishes -- has a three-course evening supper menu for €20pp. There's a special guest DJ from ten onwards to ring in the New Year in the elegant surroundings of the Powerscourt Townhouse, which is celebrating 30 years this year. Tel: (01) 677-9490.

At what is now a great Dublin Institution, Roly's bistro in Ballsbridge, they have a four-course dinner at €55pp, including a glass of Champagne. I remember in 1993 people worrying about getting a table there for the millennium, but I love Roly's even more now. Tel: (01) 668-2611.

Happy Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all.

www.lucindaosullivan.com

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