Located in the grounds of the gorgeous Dromquinna Manor on the shores of Kenmare Bay - a stunning property rescued from dereliction by John “At Your Service” Brennan and re-opened as a ‘glamping’ destination and wedding venue in 2012 – this stylish waterfront restaurant and wine bar is beautifully situated in a 19th century boathouse overlooking a little harbour that offers boating facilities for both residents and visitors.
Backed by pine trees, the building has great charm and, with white walls hung with striking marine photography, quirky lighting and plenty of cosy corners to make your own, it’s a delightful spot.
Now operated directly by Dromquinna Manor, with James Doyle as Manager and Head Chef Paul O'Loughlin leading the kitchen team, the Boathouse has established itself as a favourite destination in the area.
Offering quality casual food during the day, it’s a great amenity for the families holidaying in the “glamping” tents in the grounds but it’s also open to the general public and - while it's pitched to be a popular destination rather than a foodie event - it’s hard to imagine a more attractive setting for a relaxing lunch or snack, especially when the weather favours al fresco dining on the terrace.
At night, as the light fades on the mountains across the bay, it becomes a highly atmospheric restaurant that’s fun for groups and yet romantic for twosomes too.
The Bistro opens at 12.30pm and the same extensive menu is offered all day until closing, while the Wine Bar offers a small nibbles menu with anything from sea-salted fries to oysters with Tabasco.
Meals begin promisingly with a selection of breads (the brown bread is especially good) and menu choices lean heavily towards the local fish and shellfish, although beef, chicken and pasta are also offered, and quite a few items are available as either starters or mains. While a statement says that all their produce is 'from suppliers we know and trust,' a little more information would be welcome and interesting.
Appealing starters may include chowder, an antipasti board, cured salmon and potted crab, with battered fish fingers, sautéed crab claws, lemon calamari and mussels among the dishes offered in two portion sizes.
For fish lovers there are main courses like cod with crispy batter bits or seared fillet of hake, while meat eaters will enjoy a chargrilled 10 oz beef rib-eye, a burger or skewered chicken. Vegetarian choices may include an appealing wild mushroom and celeriac tagliatelle - and everything is competently cooked and served with a smile.
Dishes are generally simple, yet presented with flair. Creative accompaniments make for colourful plates - a seared fillet of hake, for example, looks very well with its red and yellow pepper and red onion salad and chilli jam.
The dessert menu is short, listing popular options such as lemon posset, chocolate brownie and banoffee pie - but don’t miss the Boathouse Knickerbocker Glory.
There are plenty of wines to choose from, and if a celebration is in order, you have a choice of Prosecco or much more expensive champagne, including both Taittinger and Louis Roederer.
Service is smart and, considering the location and the style of this gorgeous place, value for money is good too.