In a scenic location overlooking Oysterhaven Bay, near Kinsale, Paul and Janis Rafferty’s lovely old house is a listed building dating back to 1645. Following years of restoration, it’s home to a number of activities and events – and the courtyard conversion includes an atmospheric café, which is open to the public. Both the café and weekend restaurant across the courtyard, the Garden Room, have become a treat destination for local aficionados - we have been charmed by it since our first visit in spring 2012 and it is a very useful place to know about if you are holidaying in the area.
With a high raftered ceiling, traditional woodblock floor, and sage green bentwood chairs at marble-topped tables sporting fresh flowers, the café is a very attractive spot – and weather-proof too, with both a cosy stove for colder days and patio doors overlooking an outside seating area for fine weather bedecked with flowers and greenery. But perhaps the best is saved for the walls, which are hung with interesting artwork and a series of blackboards listing all the temptations of the day.
While the café is best known for great cakes and pastries (and this was a special strength in the 2013 season, when it was run by Christine Girault of laspoon.ie), the main menu board offers gorgeous freshly baked breads in various combinations. The breads, which are made with organic flour, are also on sale at the counter to take away. Wholemeal slices come with soup of the day (roasted vegetable, perhaps), for example, and in open sandwiches such as smoked salmon with capers, or fresh crab (which, commendably, includes some brown meat as well as white); alternatively, delicious, crusty ciabatta features in hot sandwiches such as the Tuscan, with aubergine, olives and melted brie. There’s also a dish of the day – a beef & Guinness pie, perhaps – and a wide choice of really delicious salads, many of them grown by Janis.
Desserts listed on yet another board include those gorgeous cakes and pastries and local artisan ice creams from Happy Days - there are various flavours to choose from, but you won’t beat the vanilla partnered by Walton Court chocolate brownies warm from the oven...
A wide range of drinks includes wines and beer – and you’ll find local specialities as well as international names, including craft beers from the Dungarvan Brewing Company – and the drinks menu also features Eric van der Kroon’s Kinsale Roastinghouse coffee alongside traditional thirst quenchers like elderflower cordial and lemonade.
Both the café and the weekend restaurant feature a beguiling mixture of local produce and continental specialities which match the ambience perfectly.
A delightful place to linger awhile.