Not a lot of people know this, but An Port Mor is named after Portmor House in Blackwatertown, Co Armagh, which is proprietor-chef Frankie Mallon’s home town – a pleasingly familiar place to us, from researching our Taste of the Waterways Guide.
The name has a nice ring to it and this Euro-Toques chef delights customers with his creative yet no nonsense cooking, and has carved out a national reputation for this Westport restaurant.
With a following in Westport, Frankie is acknowledged as cooking some of the best food in the area, noted for great sauces and flavour - and he is clearly achieving his stated aim: 'to give the customer the very best in local fresh produce and value for money'.
Formerly Italian, the restaurant is a long, narrow series of rooms with stucco style arches, walls and pillars, exterior patio type floor tiles and some candle wall sconces which, strangely enough, don’t seem out of place and create a warm and comfortable atmosphere, helped by tables with white linen and maroon slip covers – and a lovely view through to a leafy little patio at the end.
Arriving guests receive a genuine welcome from the front of house staff, who are locals with a knowledge of the food producers featured on the menu: the food is Irish and local with a strong emphasis on fish and, true to Euro-Toques principles, suppliers are enthusiastically credited.
Among the seven starters, you may find such diverse dishes as Clew Bay crab cakes rolled in a seaweed & polenta crust and served with grilled Clew Bay scallops & hollandaise sauce, and a speciality warm salad of pot roasted pig's cheeks with Kelly’s (of Newport) black pudding with an apple & vanilla sauce. Achill Island smoked fish plate
(wild Irish tuna, peppered mackerel, honey roast salmon & Clew Bay seaweed jam) is another favourite and, in summer, the list of three extra specials could include Inisturk lobster salad and, perhaps, a warm Inisturk crab tart too.
Marinated rump of Mayo lamb and sirloin steaks are regulars among the eight main courses and three nightly specials, and there will probably be a poultry dish and a vegetarian choice, but main courses are also predominantly from the sea - Clew Bay king scallops with grilled fennel and lemon, saffron & Donegal rapeseed oil sauce is a speciality that's likely to feature. From four homemade desserts, a warm chocolate tart with a vanilla pod extract parfait is the finale of choice for many diners.
The wine list offers about 35 wines, including a pair of organic ones from Chile; prices from four keenly priced house wines (about €19.50/€5 per glass) rising to €39, many of which are under €25.
Frankie Mallon and his team may be serving some of the best food - and, especially, seafood - in the area, but it's an exuberant celebration of local produce and this is a fun place to eat. Reservations are strongly advised.