ECO is 21 Years old this month
It is an attached four bay double pile bank with a hipped roof behind the parapet. It’s been around a while since Stephen Ram opened it in 1853, a full 169 years ago. It was The Bank of Ireland from 1884 to modern times and now it is more popularly known as a restaurant with a great name for excellent cuisine.
This area of Gorey was always well known for good food. The Rams Arms Hotel with its own connection to history, being the place where the United Irishmen was established in 1792, had a great reputation for food. It was only demolished in 1977. Gorey Fire Station is now located on that site.
I refer, of course to the well-known ECO restaurant which first opened its doors in Gorey on May 26th twenty-one years ago in 2001. It was then located in Hunts premises on Main Street, Gorey and is now occupied by The Wine Buff. At that time Gorey was ready to embrace this new casual dining experience being provided by Alf and Dave.
Gorey was lucky that the ebullient effervescent Dave Lavelle Galway/Dublin and his business partner Alf Marsden from Capetown, South Africa, who incidentally is related to Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers fame’, dropped anchor here in Gorey to practise their culinary skills. They brought with them a genuine spirit of friendly customer service.
They very quickly established a reputation as the proprietors of an excellent restaurant with great friendly service allied to competitive prices and a wide-ranging menu of excellently prepared food suited to all ages. As Dave said to me “Let the food do the talking”
I think ECO was a pioneer in the pizza scene in this area serving a wide range of freshly made pizzas for his discerning customers. ECO was pre the national chains era. They also started a delivery service which was much used and appreciated by their loyal customers.
This was an especially welcome service during the recent Covid 19 pandemic when so many places were closed, and travel was restricted. This aspect of delivery and personal service was expanded and now post Covid is very much an integral part of the business. Since restrictions were lifted, they have revamped the interior of ECO with a newly designed recessed take away service with seating available. The walls are adorned with ceramics by Tinahely based artist Dave Wilcoxson.
The bar, now located opposite the takeaway section, stocks draught lager and Guinness and a wide range of spirits and cocktails. It is nicely set off from the main restaurant. I love the backdrop scene of Verona in Italy and the blown glass piece by Katherine Wilcoxson and a lovely artistic piece by Catherine Barron. At the top end there is a large mirror which has a wonderful magnifying effect on the bar and reflects the art works.
There is a definite respect for the customer built into their ethos. When you ring in a takeaway order, they tell you exactly when they will have it ready. Customers are then alerted by text when it is time to collect, and you will not be kept waiting. This punctuality is part of the DNA of ECO and an aspect which I admire greatly.
Whenever I go to ECO, I go up the steps and I am immediately aware of being in a very welcoming place with its two-tier booths and very nice strategically placed tables on the floor. The staff and management are present and welcome you. They all have a nice easy going pleasant, relaxed manner, with smiles on their faces which permeates the place.
I just love the ambience and atmosphere of Eco. There is always a nice eclectic mix of music playing tunes to suit all ages while old time film favourites like Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, and the original Wizard of Oz films are playing on 3 screens. This adds greatly to the relaxed atmosphere of the place.
The aroma of food and sauces, unique to ECO, wafting through the air here makes the place even more special. The taste buds are whetted immediately you cross the threshold of this restaurant.
I love their soft lighting, all supplied by local firm, Lumina Lighting. The walls are painted nice, muted greys, blues and purples which adds another lovely, relaxed dimension to the place.
Eco also has air purifiers upstairs and downstairs and with their lofty ceilings and decorative operating fan provides a nice, safe, healthy ventilated area for its clientele.
The place is spotlessly clean and immediately a table is vacated it is cleaned and sterilised keeping the premises in constant pristine spotless condition.
We visited there recently for a family Sunday lunch having booked in advance. We were warmly welcomed at the door and immediately shown to our table. Service is smart with no undue delay in getting menus to you and taking your order while giving you ample time to browse the menu and assist you in making your choice if you require such assistance.
On arrival I immediately ordered a large portion of their delectable spicey chicken wings to keep us all going while we were waiting for our food to arrive.
We scrutinised the menus and made our choices from the huge array of available starters, main courses, and desserts.
I chose a Massaman Curry which was delightfully tasty. It was a very colourful individual work of cuisine art with lemon grass, tamarind, sweet potatoes, celery, aubergines, baby corns and coconut milk and prawns served with rice. I loved every morsel of it.
My wife chose the Thai Green Curry with lots of vegetables, prawns, and a serving of rice. This was a lovely, tasty dish which touched all the right taste buds and she truly enjoyed it.
The rest of the family had an Alla Verdure Pizza, Pepperoni Pizzas, and The House Captain’s Curry served up with rice and chips. This dish was originally created for an English ship’s captain by his Malaysian/Chinese chef and cooked in the ship’s galley. All the food was delicious and the service all through was friendly, courteous non-invasive and quite amazing.
When it came to desserts we were spoilt for choice. I gorged myself on an Eco Mess with strawberries, cream, and meringue.
Another member of the family chose toffee popcorn with vanilla ice-cream which looked amazing.
The juniors went for the Glenown bubble gum ice cream. These again were all individual works of art, and the portions were very generous.
We finished off with some teas and coffees. I was tempted by the Glenown vegan ice cream but left that for another day.
I was really impressed by the fact that the allergen content of all foods is clearly labelled.
I was equally impressed when Dave explained that they work so hard to make everything as ECO friendly as possible. All their takeaway packaging is compostable right down to the straws.
We had a very nice, relaxed family friendly lunch in lovely surroundings. I was really impressed by the friendly waitresses who came to the table during our stay ensuring, in a genuine way, that we were satisfied and that all our culinary needs were being met.
Eco has a very discreet homely upstairs party room which can hold over 60 guests.
Family members have used it for a hen party night, a christening and for a fortieth birthday party. On each occasion we had a totally private room with an extensive menu with your own fully stocked bar. We had great nights upstairs in ECO secure in the knowledge that we were safe from the madding crowd and guaranteed no intrusions.
We are so lucky in Gorey to have a beautiful historic listed building housing ECO restaurant with its extensive menu and family friendly atmosphere. We congratulate Dave and Alf and all the staff on their 21st birthday in Gorey. We thank them for all they have contributed to dining in Gorey thus far and wish them all the very best in the culinary years ahead.
When I spoke to Dave, he intends to continue to improve and develop the range of food they provide. One such initiative is the opening of a new Tapas and cocktail bar upstairs which they hope to open soon.
When Alf heard I was writing a piece for love Gorey he said he just adores Lovegorey.ie to the extent that they have a Love Gorey burger on their menu. What greater love can you have for your adoptive town than to name a lovely burger after it.
I leave the last word to Dave when he said to me “Mick, you are always only as good as your last meal”. With their reputation for excellence with all meals the road ahead is assured for ECO.
Go raibh fada buan sibh uilig
Mick O Callaghan 13/05/2022