Originally built in 1772 as part of an adjoining brewery, this building in the heart of Clonakilty town has been a restaurant for the last 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 (one with a round table, ideal for family gatherings) and, although there is a gently contemporary approach to the décor, it is the lovely old stone walls and floors laid with crazy paving that set the tone.
Together with local artwork (for sale), low lighting and gentle background music, these original features create an atmospheric setting for meals that aim to showcase the area’s best seasonal produce.
Well known local chef Irene Collins has overseen the kitchen herefor some years and, having acquired the premises in 2012, she is now also proprietor. While her menus do include some food which is obviously not local – the ubiquitous tiger prawn is a case in point - most of the fish and seafood is from local ports, notably Union Hall; poultry includes the famous Skeaghanore duck from Ballydehob and smoked chicken from the Ummera Smokehouse nearby at Timoleague; meat products include Clonakilty black pudding (of course) and Gubbeen charcuterie; and handmade cheeses include famous West Cork names (Gubbeen, Milleens, Durrus) along with Ardsallagh goat cheese from Carrigtwohill near Cork city and some from further afield.
Friendly and knowledgeable staff are quick to offer drinks, and very good breads (a delicious white yeast loaf and brown soda with walnuts, perhaps) materialise while you make up your mind between simple sounding but very tasty starters such as a light and crisp-pastried Cashel Blue tart with local organic salad, and crispy breaded scampi made with local prawns (langoustines) and served with a piquant tomato dipping sauce and a minty pea purée.
Equally tempting main courses include Skeaghanore duck breast, and you’ll get a good steak of course, with all the trimmings. But the choice favours local seafood and includes among the four or five fish dishes a deliciously creamy fish pie (salmon, hake, prawns) with a herby crumb topping, also a West Cork Seafood Plate which varies according to availability.
Good cooking and attention to detail lifts simple, flavoursome dishes to give them a sense of occasion - and that includes classic desserts like warm apple pie and cream, or local strawberries with homemade meringue and cream.
Service is friendly and professional and, like the food menus, the wine list offers good value and is informative and well chosen to suit the times, with plenty of choice between bottles, carafes and wine by the glass.
A great place for a special meal at a fair price.