Already becoming established as one of the top destinations in West Clare, John O’Meara’s attractive thatched restaurant with accommodation overlooks Spanish Point Beach and offers not only delicious food but also six spacious and luxuriously appointed suites, which can be available as room-only or on a self catering basis as they all have a kitchenette.
With its white-washed walls and a cobbled stone courtyard, the low U-shaped group of buildings sits well in its surroundings and combines the comforts and style of the new with a pleasingly traditional air.
Although the high-spec restoration and development of the property gives it a new feel, it actually dates back to 1840 - and Thomas Moroney, the local landlord who built it, chose well when he selected the site, which is one of the best in the area.
Today, visitors can reap the benefit and enjoy wonderful views of the famously sandy beach, pounding surf and lingering sunsets from the comfort of the restaurant, sun lounge or terrace – all areas where food is served, depending on the time and weather.
Although informality and pocket-friendly pricing is emphasised, the restaurant and sun lounge are impressive high-ceilinged areas, and sumptuously decorated to give a sense of occasion at any time - and, with John Gilmartin (former sous chef at nearby Doonbeg Lodge) as head chef, the food should match up to the surroundings.
During the day, light food is served in the sun lounge (or on the terrace, weather permitting). An appealing menu ranges from a selection of open sandwiches (crab and cucumber with lemon dressing, perhaps, or roast beef with horseradish cream); to plates, such as Irish cheese platter with pear & apple chutney, and hot dishes (maybe pork and black pudding ‘bangers & mash' with caramelised onion, or risotto of the day), or simply homemade biscuits to go with a tea or coffee – or warm scones with local Doolin jam and clotted cream for afternoon tea.
In the evening, an à la carte offering about eight choices on each course is served in the restaurant (reservations required). While there is some overlap with the daytime menu, especially among the starters, the range of dishes offered is wide and carefully selected to allow choice of style and price – and dishes are considerately marked gluten free and/or vegetarian as appropriate.
Local seafood is well represented (a starter of steamed mussels with fennel, tomatoes & vin blanc sauce, perhaps, and main courses like pan-fried haddock with caper, lemon and parsley dressing, or a cold seafood platter with organic salad leaves), also hearty meat dishes (typically a 10oz sirloin steak with traditional trimmings, or braised lamb shank with creamy mashed potato), and an appealing vegetarian option such as a local St Tola goats cheese tart or a well made risotto (wild mushroom with parmesan shavings, for example).
Desserts offer a good balance of fruit-based treats (panna cotta with a tangy fruit compote and shortbread biscuits), chocolate desserts or ice creams and a cheese plate - and (very good) coffee comes with mini chocolate chip cookies...
Restaurant Seats 60 (banqueting 60; outdoors, 18; private room, 20). L&D daily, 12-6pm & 6-9.30pm. A la carte (except for group menus). House wines from €18.50. Children welcome (high chair, childrens menu, baby changing facilities). Wheelchair friendly. Closed all Nov & Jan & Mon/Tue in low season (except bank hols).
And so to bed, if you are lucky enough to have taken one of the gorgeous rooms. Beautifully and very comfortably furnished with separate seating areas, these romantic pads have superb views, excellent insulation from the sea breezes, top quality 6ft beds, flame effect remote control fires, 32" LCD flat screen televisions, internet access, direct dial telephone and a discreet, well organised kitchenette with tea and coffee making facilities and breakfast welcome pack.
The bathroom may not be quite up to the exceptionally high spec of the room itself, but they do have power showers and some other extra features, such as magnifying shaving mirrors.