Originally built in 1772 as part of an adjoining brewery, this building in the heart of Clonakilty town has been a restaurant for over a decade.
Today it has lost none of its character and charm, tempting passers-by in with its smartly presented shopfront and the beckoning glow of candle light seen through large windows - a window table here is just the spot for people watching while you eat. Inside, the restaurant is divided into three sections, which creates an intimate atmosphere, and lovely old stone walls and floors laid with crazy paving set a warmly rustic tone - all providing a good setting for interesting and sometimes funky additions.
Husband and wife team Jason and Aoife Smith took over the lease in late 2014 and the new proprietors brought plenty of goodwill with them as they are well known in the area, notably for time spent at The Rectory in Glandore. Jason has an impressive c.v., beginning with one of Ireland' s quietly great chefs, Michael Fleming, in Cork city and going on to work with a number of top chefs including Michel Roux and Richard 'taste everything' Corrigan before settling in Aoife's home patch, West Cork. Although the style at Farm is informal, Jason's classical training will always stand him in good stead - however simple the dish, there are no short cuts taken and the difference is obvious on the plate. Not that he allows himself to get too serious though - as new customers quickly discover when the house special, stove top popped popcorn, is served on arrival!
Given Jason's a background it should be no surprise that menus are very seasonal and revolve around the area’s best produce. Even the ubiquitous early dinner menu becomes the 'Farm Supper' here, which conveys something of the philosophy. It's planned to please a wide range of customers, so the cooking style is quite varied - it may include very simply delicious dishes, such as an outstanding lasagne, alongside more exotic choices - but the common theme, on this and the more adventurous main evening menu, is the top quality local ingredients, which are proudly name checked. Upbeat classics - great steaks and fresh fish - feature among the mains and a favourite poultry dish is an Asian style Skeaghanore duck breast; Sunday lunch follows a similar pattern, offering both traditional roasts and lighter dishes.
Well known names like Devoy’s organic farm, Skeaghanore duck, Caherbeg pork and Toonsbridge Dairy are all among the regulars on Jason's menus, and he actively encourages local producers he may not know to let him know what they have to offer.
This may be Jason and Aoife's first venture together, but it's a restaurant with heart - and shows all the signs of being a great success.