Run by the original owner, Kirstin McDonagh, together with a previous manager, Pascale Soual, and chef Michel Nagy, a native of Paris, this atmospheric restaurant on Westport harbour's charming quayside is once again a key destination for diners in the Westport area.
The exterior is as cute as ever, and the restaurant itself remains the same, with three open rooms including the bar/reception area and a long room at the back leading out to a patio area. With exposed rafters and beams, nets, lamps, lobster pots, sailing charts and a large ships wheel adorning the walls, a nautical theme is maintained throughout – and tables continue the informal style, some with patterned oil-cloths, others with a combination of blue and white linen, all laid with good quality cutlery and glasses.
All this, plus a couple of (gas) fires, discreet lighting and candles, creates an atmospheric dining space - and friendly and helpful staff, a mixture of local and French, add to the congenial ambience, quickly bringing menus, bread, water and explaining the dishes and daily specials.
A choice of ten starters, including the day’s specials, includes soup, a seafood taster platter for two, steamed mussels, fishcakes, duck confit and an excellent spicy tomato based chowder, full of fish, mussels and clams – a dish which, alone, is good enough to warrant a visit.
Eight of the dozen or so main courses offered are fish, including treats like black sole on the bone, monkfish medallions rolled in smoked bacon, sea-bass fillets, hake, cod, and Clare Island organic salmon, while carnivores should be well pleased with choices such as barbary duck breast, rib-eye steak and a very well cooked melt in the mouth roast belly of pork with black pudding from Kelly's of Newport. These appealing dishes are well priced too, from about €13 for a vegetarian option such as a wild mushroom risotto, to luxurious choices like the black sole at around €27.
Desserts, all home-made, include classic favourites like chocolate mousse, crème brulée, tiramisu and an interesting orange steamed pudding.
A well-priced wine list offers value in a selection of 18 wines from around the world, with four house wines at around €19, another dozen under €25 and five available by the glass.
The cooking is impressive, showcasing the best of local ingredients with French flair - and this, together with warm hospitality and the charm of Quay Cottage itself, make for a magic combination. And it has put Quay Cottage firmly back on the Westport culinary map again.