On the scenic road from Killybegs, heading out west towards Glencolumbkille, you can’t miss this smartly maintained establishment. A big oval black and white logo set against wine-red walls is a very clear invitation to investigate and, as it has been run by well known French chef Remy Dupuy and his wife Donna since June 2016, the hungry traveller would do well to pull safely off the road into the carpark at the back and investigate.
Formerly a farmhouse, the outside of the old building is traditional and so too is the low-ceilinged bar/restaurant on the ground floor. With its open stonework, tiled floor, old darkwood furniture, a stove and table lamps, white tongue and groove wainscoting and narrow carpeted stairs with white banisters, it’s a cosy and welcoming place to come into for a bite of lunch on a damp summer day. But the patterned paper on the gable wall (although quietly coloured), gives a clue that all may not be as it seems.
Beyond the bar area, a recent makeover has transformed it with eye-poppingly smart modern décor featuring downlighters and accent colours in unlikely tones of lipstick pink and lime – think fashionable big-print wallpaper with huge flowers, lime green walls and (in one of the top rooms) a lot of white leather. Yet, fun as this is, you’ll find that the table settings and comfortable high back chairs are more traditional than they look, so it’s not just a gimmick.
But it’s for the food and hospitality that people come here anyway, and, as would be expected of the former head chef at nearby Castle Murray House Hotel, the kitchen showcases local seafood and other Donegal produce as it has always done.
Specialising in Seafood and French cuisine, 'Fresh Local Produce Only' is Remy Dupuy's philosophy. Killybegs seafood tops the list - and fans will be delighted to find an old favourite taking pride of place among the starters - Prawn & Monkfish in Garlic Butter, which has been Remy's best selling dish for the last 20 years.
Main courses also major on fish and seafood, always including a seafood dish of the day, but meat lovers are also spoiled for choice with the likes of dry-aged steaks and speciality local lamb dishes among the offerings - Grilled St John’s Point Loin of Lamb, is typical, served with slow braised belly, handpicked wild mushrooms, roasted potato croquettes, lamb and rosemary jus. Game is also likely to be offered in winter, when there is less seafood available.
Desserts include classics like tart tatin and chocolate parfait, also some treats not likely to be found on many other menus - Café Liègeois, for example, a delicious combination of coffee ice cream, light coffee custard, roasted almond and chantilly cream, perfectly designed to end a meal on a high note.
Like many of the best French chefs cooking in Ireland today, Remy has great respect for the quality of the produce in his area and he is proud to list a range of local suppliers. Fish and seafood, for example, comes from Albatross Seafood on Killybegs, Starcrest Seafood in Donegal, and local fishermen, while his butcher is Byrne’s Meat in Dunkineely and other main ingredients come from Donegal Creameries, Patton’s Eggs of Ballyshannon and McGinty’s Fruit & Veg in Donegal Town - not too many food miles in that lot!