Easy to spot by the three model yachts in full sail in the front window, this long-established seafood restaurant is right on the main square (site of Friday markets and the annual early-May mussel festival. The owner, former head chef Patrick Kiely, is mainly to be found front of house except in high season, while talented Head Chef Ann Marie Butler - who worked under Patrick Kiely for two years - now leads the kitchen brigade.
A welcoming interior mingles chic décor with artefacts connected with the seafaring tradition of the town; the ambience is cool and relaxed, helped along by a friendly, courteous and knowledgeable service team. There are plans afoot for a major extension to the premises, allowing for a casual café style restaurant at the front as well as a more formal one at the back, but any changes are sure to be made without compromising the style for which O'Connors is famous.
Naturally, fresh fish and shellfish is the big thing here. Except for the apparently unavoidable tiger prawn, most is sourced from West Cork and Kerry and small boats supply some of it, especially local crab and prawns - and the renowned Bantry Bay mussels, cooked several ways, are a speciality.
Ann Marie has a great passion for cooking seafood and likes to experiment with new dishes like ray wings in Irish whiskey and honey marinade, or Bantry Bay scallops with West Cork rack of lamb.
There’s a fair choice of non-fish dishes available too, also using local produce – black pudding from the famed Kanturk butcher, Jack McCarthy, is served with a pear and apple chutney as a starter, and unusual ingredients such as wild boar may also feature, along with ever-popular Irish Angus beef.
There will always be a vegetarian dish of the day - and some of the fresh local herbs and vegetables come from the Bantry House walled garden, nearby.
Ann Marie likes to source her produce within a 30 mile radius of the restaurant and takes pride in using local artisan and Irish produce, so suppliers are credited and the team strives to deliver a genuine West Cork food experience...which is exactly what every visitor to the area would love to find, especially when served by hospitable local staff.
The wine list is well structured and easy to browse – in sections according to taste - and it includes a good choice of wines by the glass.
Great value for money at lunch and on the Early Bird evening menu too.