A picturesque 18th century coach house in the heart of Kinsale provides the perfect setting for this relaxed and atmospheric wine bar. Opened in 2013, in a town already well supplied with good casual eating places, it hit the ground running - which says a lot about owners Siobhan Waldron and Gavin Ryan, formerly of Ely Wine Bar (Ely Place, Dublin) and the ethos they brought with them.
Inside it’s pretty basic, but that is part of the charm and the buzz is good. A glowing stove is a welcome sight in winter, while a cobbled courtyard at the back and a small patio in front offer outdoor seating for fine weather.
Equally welcoming whether you just want to drop in for a glass of wine, or have something to eat, the offering is unique and it is based on their wide range of wines - over 80 by the bottle, with over 40 available by the glass - and the best in locally sourced artisan food.
The magnificent wine list includes a wide selection of organic, biodynamic and natural wine and, while there’s not much information given, just ask. As an aperitif, try a variation on Kir Royale (‘Alsace’, made with Crémant d’Alsace instead of champagne) or a sherry from the terrific Lustau range. At the other end of the taste spectrum, there is no shortage of ports or sweet wines, some by the glass, although you’ll have to fork out €189 for a bottle of Graham’s Vintage Port 1970.
At the lower end of the whites, in the by the glass section, you may enjoy a dry Tokaji or an excellent Caves de Talmard Macon Uchizy 2011 and then move up to something like the Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner ven den Tarrassen Kremstal. You get a similar range of choice in the reds. There are wines from the Languedoc and Sicily for under a fiver and the most expensive glass is the Kim Crawford Pinot Noir from Marlborough.
The choice widens when you move to full bottles. They even have a sunken treasures special where the top wine, Chateau Beychevelle Saint Julien 2000, will set you back €189.00...
As to the food, boards, slates and platters of artisan foods are the style: an antipasto board, a charcuterie selection, a cheese board... Cork greats like Frank Hederman, Milleens and Diva Boutique Bakery feature among the suppliers and starters, on a short menu, include Marinated Olives and Salted Almonds (just the thing to nibble with that Lustau sherry) along with Marinated Artichoke Hearts, served deliciously with baguette slices, or Toonsbridge Mozzarella with semi sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil. The bigger slates or boards feature more substantial foods such as Hederman’s Smoked Salmon.
With little or no cooking involved, the flavour of the assembled ingredients is key, and the combinations are a delight. Although cold platters are the speciality, there’s also something hot as well for those who want it - a tagine perhaps - and they’re flexible too, perhaps rustling up a special pasta order on request.
Finish off then with a good cup of locally roasted Golden Bean coffee and some chocolates by Kinsale’s own chocolatier, Koko, made on Pier Road. Happy out.