This pretty cottage is just the kind of place that visitors to Ireland dream of finding - and what a joy to discover that it’s no dream but a delightful restaurant serving delicious homemade food.
If you take a jarvey or taxi to the Dun Aengus stone fortress, you arrive just outside a square with picture postcard craft shops among the stone walls and fuchsia bushes. And there, with its inviting outside seating in front, you’ll find Teach Nan Phaidi (Nan Phaidi’s house) with flower boxes full of petunias, daisies, and violas everywhere, and Ben the friendly labrador welcoming new arrivals.
Inside there’s a wonderful country living room, with granite floor, settle bed seats in the alcoves, yellow and blue oil cloths on tables, and an open turf fire (lit on most cold days). Candles are lit on the dresser, full of jugs, tea pots and coloured art from children who dine there. A big jug of wild flowers – Marguerite daisies and grasses, perhaps - sits on the shelf above the fireplace.
The person responsible for this island idyll is Catherine Concannon, whose large array of wonderful cakes and buns and fair trade coffees take over the counter, perhaps along with some of the special foods that she brings back from her weekly trips to Galway to add surprise.
Teas and coffees are reasonably priced (€1.50-2.60 approx) and, if you just need a snack, it would be hard to beat a cup of perfectly brewed Fair Trade coffee and a slice of Catherine’s divine fresh cream and raspberry sponge – or perhaps a taste of her luscious chocolate cake.
The main menu is on a large blackboard, offering hot lunch dishes such as beef & Guinness stew with mash (about €11.50), beef or vegetarian lasagne with salad (about €10), soups and sandwiches (€4), and salads (chicken with brown bread, perhaps, or Greek salad, about €8 - €10).
Among the specialities is a gorgeous creamy potato gratin - sliced potatoes, caramelised onion, Parmesan, rosemary and cream – while meant for vegetarians, it’s loved just as much by everyone.
Salads are grown locally by Dara Mulloy - and Catherine’s daughter, Orla, and her husband Gabriel (a former fisherman), have started a goat farm on the island and have produced their first cheese, so that is something to look out for on the menu.
Everything is freshly cooked with great thought and care, and service – although self-service mostly, as dozens on day trips arrive off the little buses and are hungry - is good.
And, with its jug of wild flowers and the lovely outlook ,even a visit to the loo is a treat here - as you wash your hands you look onto wild roses, hedging and stone walls!
What a little gem.