This popular restaurant in the centre of Kenmare is in common ownership with the nearby Brook Lane Hotel and, even in a town that has earned such renown for the quality of its food and hospitality, it stands out for the pride that owners Dermot and Una Brennan and head chef Joe Ryan take in showcasing the best of local produce - and for atmosphere.
An attractive stone faced interior hints at the pleasing ambience and - on two floors with lots of wood and open stone - it has a warm and welcoming feeling, even on a wet night. The tables are close enough to create a sense of intimacy but not too close for comfort, and friendly, well-briefed waiting staff work well to make a visit here a real pleasure.
Styled café restaurant, No 35 has a pleasing emphasis on sociability and accessibility, with wide ranging menus including plenty of sharing plates and popular pasta and pizza dishes (the latter mostly around €14.95). But, although the cooking style is modern and international, the key focus is on showcasing local produce - with Dermot's own Saddleback pork playing the starring role in a range of dishes from starters like pates and terrines or tender pork belly spring rolls to delicious meatballs served with fresh pasta.
Other key ingredients include certified Irish Hereford beef (try the traditional beef & Guinness stew) and lamb from the local Ring of Kerry Lamb Producer Group (in a spicy Morroccan tagine with couscous, perhaps). Only free range Irish chicken is used and you'll also find the Hickeys famous Skeaghanore Duck, from Ballydehob in nearby West Cork. Although the ubiquitous tiger prawn does feature on the menu, most of the fish is caught nearby, off the coast of Cork and Kerry, and the fresh vegetables, salads and herbs from local grower Billy Clifford’s organic farm feature in many dishes including some imaginative vegetarian options.
Desserts are homemade - strawberries and cream may be theme of the house pavlova in season, perhaps - and locally made Kenmare Ice Cream is proudly offered too, while - for those who prefer a savoury finish - farmhouse cheeses may include punchy Ardrahan, from Co Cork and St Tola goat cheese from Co Clare.
Prices are very fair, and not only is the carefully selected wine list a very good match for the food (with eight available by the glass), but there's a choice of excellent craft beers and cider made in counties Cork and Waterford on offer too.
Good cooking of outstanding ingredients, lovely service and a great atmosphere make this restaurant stand out – everybody loves it.
The Back Room is available for small private parties and the special group menus offer plenty of choice together with good value.