Just a short hop up Pier Road from the harbour, Ronnie Blake's neatly presented pair of businesses pretty much look after all of the informal dining needs of Rathmullan. If you happen on them by chance, their clean-lined confident frontages and bold signage will certainly draw you in and, once inside, they clearly deliver on the promise too, as returning visitors usually waste no time in going back to check them out.
The posher half is Belle’s Kitchen, flagged as cafe and bistro, it's a nice little smart-casual restaurant with a good buzz and friendly staff who will always find somewhere to squeeze you in to enjoy a quick bite of wholesome homemade food - a seafood pancake, perhaps, or chicken parmesan - or maybe just a slice of cake with a deliciously aromatic cup of Illy coffee.
The little fish & chip shop Salt'n'Batter is the ‘other half of this unusual twosome... It's an attractive spot and not pretending to be anything that it isn’t, but offers an appealing menu and – this is the secret of its success – knows how to do the simple things well. So, for example, you may expect gleamingly fresh, succulent fish and perfect chips. And it’s well-priced too.
No wonder so many regulars say they wouldn’t visit Rathmullan without coming for a quick bite on Pier Road at least once.
*And then there were three....In summer 2012, Ronnie Blake's litle empire on Pier Road expanded down towards the harbour to the former premises of An Bonnan Bui which, together with another local businessman Cormac Walsh, he has re-opened as The Ferry Gate Restaurant and Wine Bar ( 074 9158779; www.ferrygate.com); attractive menus showcase local suppliers; D only Thu-Mon, closed Tue & Wed.