In a quiet, wooded setting just a few minutes’ drive from Blarney, this pretty riverside pub is run by John and Anne Blair and their sons Duncan and Richie, a warmly hospitable family who take real pride in welcoming visitors. This is the real McCoy, a great Irish pub serving terrific local food and drink.
Sitting in the garden in summer, you might see a wily heron waiting for trout rising in the Owenageara river, while winter offers welcoming fires in this comfortingly traditional country pub. It’s a lovely place to drop into at any time, whether for a drink or a tasty bite to eat in the bar or evening restaurant.
Duncan Blair, who trained at Ballymaloe, works alongside a long-established kitchen team - and they are well known for the quality of the food they offer in both the characterful bar and the atmospheric restaurant, which has rustic charm and is candlelit at night.
The menus offered are à la carte (although set menus are possible for groups of 8 or more) and include a daily lunch menu, an evening bar menu and a restaurant dinner menu.
All feature plenty of local Cork and Kerry produce such as beef from O’Crualaoi’s Butchers in nearby Ballincollig (good steaks are a mainstay); mussels from Oysterhaven and also from Cromane in West Kerry; West Cork smoked salmon and a range of fresh seafood from the nearby ports including Kenmare; meats, puddings and sausages from famous butchers including Jack McCarthy of Kanturk and O’Flynn’s of Cork; Ardrahan, Gubbeen and Toonsbridge cheese - and artisan produce from other areas too, such as St Tola goat cheese from Co Clare, along with beers and cider from local brewers.
Skilful cooking is wholesome in style and, depending on the season and weather, pleasingly traditional - although well presented and with an up to date twist. You might find some attractive, fiercely local, starters like a warm salad of Jack McCarthy’s boar’s head black pudding & caramelised apples, or Toons Bridge Mozzarella with vine tomatoes,
alongside pleasing renditions of old favourites like Cromane mussels in garlic & cream sauce.
A deeply flavoured beef & stout casserole is made with Blackrock Stout from Dungarvan Brewing Company; corned beef and parsley sauce is served with cabbage and champ; old style roast chicken comes with stuffing and gravy; and there may be baked cod on parsley mash - followed by deliciously homely desserts like pear and apple cobbler or a warm chocolate gateau with whipped cream.
Gluten free dishes and imaginative vegetarian options are highlighted on all menus, and evening menus include some dressier choices - whole Dublin Bay prawns (langoustines) in garlic butter, perhaps, and rack of spring lamb or honey roast duck.
To complement this honest food, service is warm and friendly, and a well-chosen and informative wine list includes one or two organic wines and is kindly priced, with most bottles coming in under €30 and many under €25. They also offer an impressive range of craft beers and ciders.
Traditional Irish music on Monday nights in summer (May-Sep).