Jim McCarthy’s attractive stone-built restaurant has been one of Dingle’s favourite dining destinations since 1997.
Right from the time of opening, they set the bar high and - even in an area so well-endowed with good eating places - their well-earned reputation consistently holds good.
There’s a smart little bar just inside the door - where Jim, ever the perfect host, always seems to be meeting, seating and seamlessly ensuring that everyone is well looked after and generally having a good time.
And head chef Noel Enright has led the talented kitchen team for most of the restaurant's life: his menus are steadfastly based on the best of fully traceable local ingredients, sometimes in dishes with an international tone but always kept simple to allow the special qualities of ingredients to take centre stage.
Annascaul black pudding is a favourite ingredient, for example, and it appears in various guises superb - one speciality starter sees it wrapped in filo pastry and served with apple and date chutney, or it may come in a crisp hash, topped with soft poached free range egg and and hollandaise sauce. Another favourite dish is rack of Kerry mountain lamb, which may be simply accompanied by dauphinoise potatoes and fresh miint sauce; accurate, confident cooking lends these traditional foods a special character, and a large selection - perhaps half a dozen or more - of simple, perfectly cooked side vegetables are the ideal complement.
Seafood is well represented, of course, and mainstream vegetarian dishes have wide appeal, but it tends to be the meat dishes that stay in the memory.
Desserts include classics like a basket of home-made ice creams, or tangy lemon mousse with a wild berry compote. But those with a savoury tooth will still feel that the smart money is on the Irish cheeses, which are cannily offered with a glass of vintage port and served with delicious home-made oat biscuits and two varieties of grapes.
Terrific hospitality, top class ingredients and gimmick-free creative cooking all add up to a great restaurant, which is also moderately priced.
An interesting wine list includes South African wines imported directly, and has helpful tasting notes as well as a clear layout of country of origin and vintages - and, of course, there’s always a Chateau MacCarthy in stock.
*Jim McCarthy was our Host of the Year in 2003 and The Chart House won the Féile Bia Award, in association with Bord Bia, in 2008.