Despite changing brigades a few times over the years, this atmospheric restaurant has been one of the most consistently popular dining choices in the Kenmare area since 1994 - and, with the original chef Michael Casey back as proprietor/chef since spring 2013 and heading up a dynamic team, it's set to stay that way.
It’s a landmark in the town - an attractive cut stone building built in 1832 and set well back from the road - and, with an open log fire, exposed stone walls, original wall panelling and a minstrels’ gallery (which provides an upper eating area), the interior is highly atmospheric and there's even an art gallery upstairs.
Michael Casey takes pride in showcasing the local foods of Kerry and West Cork, giving his cooking a sense of place.
Although there are plenty of other choices, fish features strongly. Oak smoked Kenmare salmon - perhaps with with celeriac and apple remoulade and a caper and red onion salsa - is a point of pride among starters which may also include a good seafood chowder, deconstructed Dublin Bay prawn cocktail (a classic of langoustines with cognac-infused Marie Rose sauce), and Thai-style fish cakes with a mango salsa.
Another local speciality is Sneem black pudding, served warm with crispy fried potato cubes, apple compote and blackberry vinaigrette, and the original Lime Tree oven-roasted and basted sweet and sticky chicken wings add a retro flavour.
Fish such as baked fillet of salmon topped with a lemon crumb sauce, or a baked fillet of hake on a bed of wilted spinach leaves, features strongly again among main courses, but there’s also plenty of meat, with a pan-fried 10 oz sirloin of Irish Hereford beef topping the list, also a very satisfying and strikingly presented duo of lamb: a mini shepherd’s pie served in its own pot on a board, together with a rack of Kerry lamb and a confit of garlic and thyme juice. If poultry is to your liking don't miss the pan-fried breast of Skeaghanore free-range duck, from West Cork, which may come with a rhubarb and ginger chutney, apple and a cassis jus.
Dessert brings plenty of classic treats, notably a classic French lemon tart with raspberry sorbet - or traditionalists might like a Harrington’s bread and butter pudding with old-fashioned custard.
A comprehensive wine list covers most of the popular grape varieties. From the whites, try the Mendoza Chardonnay or maybe the Trimbach Riesling. Mendoza is also represented with a very good Cabernet Sauvignon, while further up the list, the Bastide St Vincent Plan de Dieu is recommended. House wines are offered by the glass and there are seven half bottles listed.
Staff are really friendly and helpful. And, while the prices may seem high, the quality of the food, service and ambience should add up to good value.