Situated at the top of Pearse Square and named after the laneway that links it with nearby Casement Square, this restaurant with rooms is housed in a corner property recently renovated by proprietors David Bird and Charlie Daly and their families.
It’s an old building with an unusual interior layout - a corridor from the main entrance leads to the L-shaped restaurant, where a section with modern windows overlooking the square is bright with natural light during the day, making it particularly attractive in summer, while a second area to the back would be cosier in winter.
A central location, long opening hours, appealing and fairly priced menus, friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere ensure the popularity of Gilbert’s with locals – and visitors won’t miss it, as the name is proclaimed boldly on a gable wall.
Bare-topped tables boast salt and pepper mills, but also foil butter packs and singles of sauces – underlining the range of menus that this restaurant offers.
Lunch menus offer light meals like panini and open sandwiches with salad, while the range of starters includes house specialities appearing on all menus, such as a substantial bacon & smoked coley chowder served with good homemade breads (white and brown sodas and a more-ish ciabatta); a tasty tartlet of Ardsallagh goat’s cheese with braised red onion, pine nuts & Cumberland sauce; and a rocket salad with mature Cashel blue cheese, pine nuts & pear.
Main courses are more specific to each meal – thus the lunchtime beer battered cod with home-cut chips may graduate to a dish of whole seabass served with lemon and caper butter, seasonal potato & vegetable in the evening, for example. The tone is generally modern, but it is good to see old favourites like steak and oyster pie, or grilled lamb’s liver, offered too.
Desserts include homemade ice cream (a surprisingly rare event in Irish restaurants), some local produce and suppliers are name checked throughout each menu, and both vegetarian and coeliac friendly dishes are highlighted.
To commemorate the RMS Titanic’s fateful visit to Cobh in 2012, a first class dinner menu as served on board is offered every Wednesday night (reservations essential).
Restaurant open 7 days Easter to end Oct: Mon-Wed 9am-9pm, Thu-Sat 9am-9.30pm, Sun 11am-9pm. Closed Sun & Mon off season. L & D à la carte; also 2/3 course early D €20/24. House wine €21; glass from €5.80.
Overnight guests need to present themselves at the restaurant on arrival as the entrance is around the corner. The building is tall and there is no lift but, once comfortably installed, the four en-suite rooms are spacious, smartly decorated, and thoughtfully furnished with bespoke furniture, designer lighting, original artwork by local artists and tea & coffee making facilities.
Each room has its special character – two at the back are quieter, making them the wise choice for weekend stays; one room has a modern four-poster bed, and there is a self-catering apartment at the top of the building (the ‘penthouse suite’), which has a large seating area with 42” flat screen TV and a cleverly designed kitchen corner with dishwasher and small freezer as well as all the more usual appliances, a small bar and dining for six; it can also be let on a B&B basis when available.