Monday to Thursday: 17:00 - 21:00
Friday to Saturday: 17:00 - 21:30
Sunday: 13:00 - 14:30 and 17:00 - 20:00
‘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 Eurotoques 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 – 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 men 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. What a bundle of energy this young man 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. Currently into dehydration techniques and the intense flavours this gives to ingredients. 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 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 surprise is on the plate and you need no fancy terminology to describe it. The Molloys grow their own potatoes and use a Letterkenny man for other vegetables and salads. Fish and shellfish are highlights, as is the seasonal game in the colder months.
Good value Early Bird menu served Sunday to Friday, with Evening Specials on Saturdays. Wines live up to the mark, with a selection of well priced house wines by glass and bottle and an international selection of classics. Irish craft beer also, 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 to great food.