Set well back from the road with plenty of parking at the front, Peter Byrne and Siobhan Sweeney’s restaurant is warm and welcoming.
Arriving guests are shown up to the first floor bar, where the luckiest will get seats at a corner table with big windows on both sides and views over the harbour.
Waiting here for your table is no hardship, but once orders are taken from Ballymaloe-trained Siobhan’s down-to-earth à la carte menu, offering seven or eight choices on each course, you’ll be whisked away downstairs again to an atmospheric dining room with a big open fire, lots of wood and good art on the walls.
Specialities include a really good house chowder served with home-baked brown bread and, along with a well-judged range of favourites, you’ll find some less usual dishes too, such as a classic cassoulet, whole boned quail or a Keralan vegetable curry.
Quality ingredients are handled with creativity and culinary skill all the way to your table. Starters might include treats such as Parmesan and truffle beignets, Donegal crabmeat and salmon paupiettes or roasted fresh figs filled with Cashel Blue cheese and Parma ham, baked and drizzled with port and Marsala jus – just exquisite.
Main courses include a fair amount of seafood, including two fish of the day specials - such as a nicely judged John Dory with lightly curried leeks (perhaps the most delightful dish on a recent visit by the Guide).
You’ll also find delicious meat dishes, such as great steaks, slow-cooked pork belly, lamb shanks, prime Hereford steaks and supreme of chicken served with a zesty quinoa salad, and imaginative vegetarian dishes are available too. Or try the cassoulet, a rich mix of confit duck, Toulouse sausage, smoked bacon and cannellini beans slow cooked in red wine and topped with toasted crumbs. Gorgeous!
Daily prepared desserts might include passionfruit custard creams and a chocolate pot with fresh raspberries, which is a delight - especially if taken with a macchiato.
There is an inviting selection of craft beers from as far away as the Dungarvan Brewing Company (try their Blackrock Stout) and as close as Rathmullan, where the Kinnegar Brewery makes some excellent ales. Quite an extensive, informative wine list is broadly organised by price (Everyday Wines/Fine Wines) and offers plenty to encourage you to linger on a little after dinner.
This is a very friendly place, where caring service backs up the great work going on in the kitchen - the terrific restaurant team are very helpful and know their stuff, and owner Peter comes out as the evening goes on to chat with the tables, making sure that everyone's having a good time.