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 now mainly to be found front of house while head chef Margaret Connolly looks after the kitchen.
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.
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.
Perhaps try their Oysters with Murphy’s Stout (baked with stout and walnuts), followed perhaps by lobster (when in season). Alternatively there may be sea fish such as hake, pan seared and topped with a fresh herb salsa, Bantry Bay crab and Cashel Blue cheese – and their trademark Luxury Seafood Pie is always popular, all served with an abundance of fresh seasonal vegetables.
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 wild boar also features in an unusual speciality combination dish of monkfish with venison risotto. Roast rack of local lamb is another speciality (French trimmed and cooked with a rosemary and garlic crust), also Irish Angus beef.
There’s less choice for vegetarians, although you will find a vegetarian dish of the day - and some of the fresh local herbs and vegetables come from the Bantry House walled garden. Since fresh local ingredients need little to enhance them, the aim is to keep cooking simple, adornments complementary, and fuss to a minimum.
Proud to have local artisan products on the menu, suppliers are credited and they strive 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.