Bramley Lodge is always busy - from eight o'clock every morning right through until the evening, the car park of Gillian Kearney's restaurant-cum-foodstore is full. On the junction to Cobh just off the N25, it is well situated, but there's more going for it than location: the food is top notch and well priced.
So the advice is to get there early for lunch and don’t spend too much time looking at their hens in the run on the way in. If you are lucky, you’ll get a table in the conservatory but the other room, though perhaps a little less bright, is also a well appointed place, or on a clement day there is a large terrace with seating on large tables for groups up to 8 people and smaller tables for couples.
The menu changes daily and that too helps draw the regulars back time after time. There are usually four or five starters available and the list will almost certainly include their celebrated paté (2012 Great Taste Awards, two star), served with Cumberland sauce and crusty bread, and perhaps Bramley black pudding, Scotch egg and orange cranberry relish.
They have a different quiche every day and also do Fish 'n Chips, a Thai Red Curry and a vegetarian option and seasonal salads. And there is always a fish option on the varied list of mains - Ballycotton Seafood is a listed supplier, along with other local businesses including Ardsallagh goat farm and Riverview eggs.
Depending on your mood and the weather, you might like the hake, colcannon spuds and samphire served with poached egg and mussels; the 18-hour slow roasted shin of beef, served with creamed spuds, carrot anise purée, confit carrot and parsnip would go down well on a winter’s day - and there's the 8oz sirloin steak with hand cut fries and a choice of sauces.
The quality of the wines offered is impressive and includes a wine of the month by the bottle or glass - and the Dungarvan Brewing Company’s excellent craft beers are stocked here as well.
There's proper food for children too, including Clonakilty sausages and Bramley bake every morning so you can be sure the cakes and desserts are freshly made. There is usually quite a tempting list, including the classic Bramley apple pie, and gently heated 70% cocoa chocolate fudge cake.
But pride of place must surely go to their famous bakewell tart (2011Great Taste Awards, one star) which is really delicious, especially with a cup of their quality coffee.
The foodstore offers many of the foods produced for the café and other classy food items, many of them sourced from local suppliers.
A very useful place to know about, especially if you are visiting nearby Fota Island.