Westport man Dermott Flynn and his Dublin-born wife Janice O’Rourke opted to offer ‘a small food menu and some good wine selections’, when they opened this restaurant/cafe neart the Octagon in July 2010. They are Slow Food members and, with everything made on the premises and plenty of local produce, it was very much in the spirit of the times and not only has it thrived but it continues to improve all the time.
Soft lighting (with lots of candles for an atmospheric night-time look), mis-matched oilcloth-covered tables, wines and other bits and pieces from their travels on display all combine to create a cosy and comfortable atmosphere - in tune with their aim ‘to bring a casual and fresh Slow Food dining experience to the town’.
Janice heads up the front of house staff and the welcome is warm and helpful, while Dermott looks after the kitchen end of the operation. Menus change regularly and the aim is to keep a balance of favourite dishes and new ones introduced for seasonal interest.
From a choice of about six starters, you might enjoy a carrot and coriander soup or calamari in a light batter; accompanied by lovely home-made brown bread and a good salad with a refreshing dressing - followed, perhaps, from the ten or so main courses on offer, by a fine dish of monkfish wrapped in smoked bacon, or a tasty breaded pork chop on the bone with scallion mash and a light mushroom flavoured sauce.
Desserts are home-made and, like all the cooking, good - and so is the value and quality. Except for oranic beef from The Good Herdsman, which is used in their burgers, meats are all local; two local butchers - McCormacks and Walsh's - and sausages by Kellys of Newport are among an impressive list of regular suppliers, which is augmented by other small local suppliers as needed for seasonal produce.
A well priced wine list of 25 wines starts at about €21.95 and offers good value, with most under €25; four are offered by the glass, from €5.95. Including dessert wines and prosecco (€26.95) more than half are over the €25 mark, rising to €39.95. Also featured are 4 red wines from Andrea Bocelli's family vineyard near Pisa, they are the only Irish importers and it makes an interesting talking point.
The service is nice and easy-going, Janice out-front is very pleasant and helpful and the restaurant gives off a cosy, comfortable feeling.
This is a great, big-hearted little restaurant - and it just goes on getting better.