Masses of well-maintained flowers and a neat frontage with fresh paintwork always draw attention to Danny and Dympna Fitzpatrick’s attractive and well-run bar and restaurant on the Carlingford road (R174).
There’s plenty of parking and the agricultural memorabilia all around the entrance will prepare first time visitors for the old-world ambience inside, where there’s a series of bar/dining rooms, all full of character and laden with rural artefacts and pictures of local interest.
Their system is well organised for informal but comfortable dining and, following a prompt welcome from friendly staff at the reception desk (with a range of homemade products cannily displayed nearby, to hold your attention in case of delay on arrival or when paying), guests with reservations are generally whisked off to their table right away.
Predictably enough, given the surroundings, what’s on offer is traditional home-cooked food (sometimes with a modern twist, notably on evening menus), although the wide range offered may come as a surprise.
Well-balanced menus always include a good selection of fresh local seafood – in summer the set dinner might include a starter of chilli & garlic prawns (with steamed rice, white wine & cream, coriander & basil) and a main course fillet of hake with shrimp, peas, fine herbs & seafood velouté.
Delicious informal meals from the extensive bar/bistro menu also offer a lot of fish and seafood, including proper scampi, made with fresh Dublin Bay prawns (langoustines), dipped in beer batter and server with traditional tartare sauce, plus an equally impressive range of other choices, notably a page of char-grilled steaks, steak sandwiches and organic burgers. A separate vegetarian menu is offered too, also a ‘Little Fitzers’ menu.
This is not inexpensive food (some main courses may be over €30) but it is real food, and the quantities are generous. The friendly service and traditional style makes an appealing package, although very little concession seems to be made to the fact that we’re in recession and a casual lunch can add up to quite hefty bill.
On a recent visit the Guide felt that a short, pocket-friendly lunch deal would be a welcome addition to the à la carte selection currently offered. However, while visitors to the area might possibly question the value, it is well supported and its obvious popularity with locals is well deserved - and it’s also a pleasant place to drop into for a cup of tea or coffee.