West End House, Killarney, Co Kerry
Irish diners place a high premium on atmosphere – often rating it even above the quality of food when choosing where to eat out – but West End House, although certainly atmospheric, has much more to it than that. As everyone familiar with past winners of our Atmospheric category will know, we seek out establishments that offer very high standards all round, with great atmosphere as the icing on the cake.
Originally run by the Fassbender family, this listed building has been home to one of Killarney’s best-loved restaurants since the mid 1980s and is currently run with hands-on enthusiasm by new proprietor-manager Oliver Hefferenan. Since the Fassbenders’ retirement, it’s been given a highly sympathetic makeover and their Tyrolean theme was retained in the downstairs bar, where a huge feature fireplace in the end wall sets an atmospheric tone for a series of romantically cottagey rooms with opulently quirky décor: a wonderful setting for inspired food by head chef Paul Carew, who constantly introduces original new dishes with key ingredients always from Kerry and West Cork.
A magic spot, with a fascinating history.