A short drive from Mizen Head, the southernmost point in Ireland, Emma and Freddy Olsson run this popular pub cum restaurant.
The old inn, always attractive to the yachting fraternity and tourists, has been extensively renovated in recent years without diminishing its traditional character: stone floor, open fireplace, beamed ceiling, wooden bar counter and tables, bench and banquette seating (some quite cramped) with extra tables outside for al fresco dining in summer.
During the season it is a bustling place, diners cheek by jowl with pint drinkers and sports fans watching television. (An oddity, given the premium on space, is the house practice of carrying a large blackboard from table to table in a crowded pub; a couple of smaller boards, easily carried, would be much handier.)
Chef Freddy is serious about his food and, although service can be tested at busy times, unflappable Emma and her bright young staff keep the show on the road at a brisk pace.
The evening menu of a couple of soups and about a dozen main courses is supplemented by daily blackboard specials, emphasising the ready availability of locally caught fish and seafood, Grilled Fresh Prawns in a salad with tomato and ginger vinaigrette, for instance. Local sourcing is evident also in The Crookhaven Special, combining Gubbeen smoked bacon, fried potatoes, cheese, egg and lettuce with herb dressing, and in Crab salad. The soup of the day, at around €5, may be mushroom - rich, creamy, very mushroomy - and there will also be a seafood chowder and, among the main courses, a classic Mediterranean fish soup with homemade aioili.
The conventional menu divisions tend to be somewhat blurred in some cases but very good dinner dishes that are clearly main courses (rising to around €22) may include red wine braised lamb shank and a tempting vegetarian choice such as Cashel Blue cheese & baby spinach quiche, with a homemade relish..
Generous desserts include a variety of fruit tarts and cakes and sticky toffee pudding, all priced at around €7.50, with very good Illy coffee to follow.
The wine list offers a range of about twenty French, Italian and New World wines with House choices of Chilean Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, Australian Shiraz and Chardonnay, all at about €20.90 per bottle (€4.90 per glass).
The lunch menu offers a selection of dishes from the dinner menu, plus one or two lighter variations and a range of gourmet sandwiches and, although choices are very limited, an early bird dinner menu offers a good budget-conscious option.
For above average fare (with, of course, prices to match) and great atmosphere, The Crookhaven Inn is worth seeking out, particularly in summer.
Children are welcome “under supervision” but there are no chips!