In one of the most keenly anticipated openings of 2013, top chef Wade Murphy and his wife Elaine took the plunge in May and opened their own restaurant in this postcard pretty village’s most charming thatched cottage, just across the road from the Dunraven Arms.
Former head chef at The Lodge at Doonbeg, and current Commissioner General of Euro-Toques Ireland, Wade decided on a move away from fine dining, and has taken a similar path to several other well known chefs, including Aidan McGrath of Lisdoonvarna’s Wild Honey Inn and Kevin Arundel of The Chop House in Dublin, in opting for casual dining in a broadly gastropub style “but without being a pub!”.
The rustic cottage setting and chic country décor, paired with food offering freshness, simplicity and keen pricing to match, make a winning combination: with starters at €10 and below, and mains for €20 and less (excluding steaks), and only €5/6 for desserts, Wade’s 5-5-5 type à la carte menu will please a lot of punters.
There’s also a small children’s menu, and a Sunday menu that will always include roast as well as a pared down selection from the weeknight menu.
Seasonal local produce is the foundation of Wade’s food philosophy, so menus change on a monthly basis, and there are blackboard specials such as whole sole, braised meats and so on changing daily.
Allowing for that, standout dishes to look out for include a gorgeous starter of brown bread baked Castletownbere scallops in the shell (perfectl cooked tender scallops and just the right amount of the breading) and an excellent warm chicken liver salad - dollops of chicken liver on dressed microgreens and flowers - which is good enough to win over the most reluctant liver eater.
Of the main courses, don't miss the 36 hour slow cooked pork belly with apple and calvados reduction if it's on the menu; so tender you could slice through the pork belly with a butterknife, it's a simple but outstanding dish and sinfully delicious. Alternatively, fish lovers will be equally happy with a beautifully presented and perfectly cooked roasted fillet of organic salmon, which is loaded with flavour and served with summer vegetables - and topped with lipsmackingly good fried mussels and clams.
But don't let these good things distract you from the grand finale - if you're lucky it might be a rhubarb brown sugar meringue which will transport you back to your childhood; with sweet and tart in just the right proportions, it's quite possibly the best rhubarb dessert you will ever encounter.
Warmly efficient staff provide attentive service throughout - including sound advice on wine choices.
The impression you are left with is that, while you can take fine dining out of the equation, what you get from a classically trained chef of this calibre is the same top notch cooking in a more relaxed style - and at a very accessible price.
Another must-visit destination for Adare.