You could easily walk past Martin Bealin and Nuala Cassidy’s long-established restaurant in Dingle Town, but you'd be missing a treat. Unreasonably perhaps, the name and the street signage might make it seem like a different kind of place – multi-cultural, a bit hippy, maybe even an internet café – but make no mistake, this is a proper restaurant serving seriously good food.
It may also be hard to get a booking (the three phone numbers are definitely needed) but persistence is worthwhile and you'll be glad once you get in, as a prompt welcome is soon followed by efficient service and really excellent food.
Quite closely packed with white-clothed tables surrounded by happy diners, it's a long, narrow room with a blackboard proclaiming the daily specials - notably local fish and seafood but, unusually, it also names the day’s beef and lamb suppliers and the vegetables harvested from their own bio-dynamic garden out at Ventry.
The sourcing list on the menu is even more extensive, and it’s interesting to see Dingle Farmhouse Milk given full credit alongside the meats and fish, and famous speciality products like Ashes black and white puddings, from nearby Annascaul.
You'll find many equally appealing dishes among the 10 starters and mains on the à la carte, so choices aren't easy to make – but the delicious yeast breads brought to the table make it an enjoyable dilemma.
There’s an understandable emphasis on local seafood; on any one day the range could include scallops, crab, lobster, Glenbeigh mussels, monkfish, hake, plaice and lemon sole - and it’s good to see the humble mackerel given equal billing. Yet the meats carry weight too and, thanks to the exceptional respect accorded to vegetables here, vegetarians also fare very well.
The cooking style is modern classic, with choices including a number of ‘duo’ and trio’ dishes created around a single ingredient – a memorable Trio of Crab starter, for example, highlights the versatility (and deliciousness) of crab. A long white plate offers a potted crab terrine (with brown meat included, which is rare these days), a shot of bisque, and a little dressed white crabmeat salad; topped with a jaunty sesame tuile, it’s pleasingly simple yet presents a perfectly satisfying combination of flavours and textures.
Another great starter is composed of medallions of Ventry Bay lobster set on a potato cake and topped with a soft boiled Lispole free range egg and hollandaise; luxurious and yet also down to earth, it’s absolutely delicious – and, although the most expensive starter on the à la carte, not over-priced at about €14.
Among the mains, a dish such as panfried mackerel fillets and garlic crab toes with Ashes white pudding is a delight, served with pretty pea purée and saffron sauce and counterbalanced with a crisp flesh-flavoured salad.
Yet, although weighted heavily in favour of fish, there will be a couple of tempting meat dishes, notably a wonderful roast rack of Kerry lamb with sautéed liver, perfectly accompanied by a puy lentil and chorizo casserole, boulangère potatoes and a rosemary jus. The stand-out lamb dish of the year for the Guide, the best quality meat is allowed to show its form and the imaginative accompaniments are perfectly weighted to complement the quite assertive lamb.
Following apace, desserts offer a pleasingly refreshing, seasonal selection alongside the de rigeur chocolate temptations; resist the lemon posset if you will, but a magnificent rhubarb and berry plate or the homemade ice creams may be waiting to get you – or perhaps the Irish Farmhouse Cheese selection. Supplied by Maja Binder’s Little Cheese Shop in the town, and including her own Dingle Peninsula Cheese of course, it is laid out in loving detail – and, to accompany, a glass of the suggested Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2005 at 4.50 is richly deserved.
There’s an air of quiet confidence about Global Village and Martin Bealin’s cooking is sure-handed, exceptionally creative and consistently well-judged. Nothing is over the top here but everything – the local provenance and seasonality, the cooking, the balance of flavours, the pride in service - works together to make a memorable experience. One not to be missed.