A useful place for visitors to the area to know about, this impressive venue has been pleasing customers in Sallybrook since 2000 and the warm welcome and the good food keeps them coming back. Inside what was once a traditional inn, the interior is now a smartly contemporary bar and restaurant - just the right setting for good modern food with a respectful eye to the past.
Owned by the Murphy family, who are well known in catering circles, The Brook Inn is operated by the Head Chef, Greg Murphy. A proud grandson of Sean Kinsella of the legendary Mirabeau Restaurant in Sandycove - favourite haunt of the rich and famous in 1970s Dublin - Greg has clearly inherited the cheffing gene and, while catering to a very different market from his famous grandfather, the essentials of creativity, technical skill and an instinct for the food combinations that will work best are all to be found here.
The day starts early at The Brook Inn, beginning with morning coffees and pastries (brunch at weekends) and then a busy lunch service (carvery and salad menu every day) and finally the main event, when the dinner menus allow Greg and his team to flex their culinary muscles.
Menus change with the seasons and provenance is declared as local - included among sources listed on the menu are neighbours Kepak (Watergrasshill) for meat and Derek Hannon (Greenfield Farm, Knockraha) for organic produce, so this is food from the area being given due respect.
A keenly priced early dinner menu (with generous time limits) offers a far more interesting choice than most, and includes quite a few of the dishes from the à la carte - a tasty starter of Crispy hen's egg (grilled scallions, ham hock terrine, wholegrain mustard aoili), and mains including house specialities like Thai Red Curry (with chicken on the early menu and, at a premium, also with monkfish on the carte), The Brook Burger (brioche bun, home cut chips, onion, salad) and a vegetarian Risotto.
The carte offers a wider choice, of course, with a beautiful dish of cured salmon with cucumber, saffron, samphire and aioli leading the starters, and a choice of steaks taking pride of place among the main courses - take your pick between a fillet and a large (20oz) Rib Eye with all the trimmings - plus a good choice of other meats, poultry and fish, all skilfully cooked and presented appealingly without over-elaboration. Side dishes, too, go beyond the usual offerings and may include tempting choices such as heritage carrots, for example, with toasted hazelnuts, beurre noistette and tarragon.
Desserts might be hard to pass on - who could resists a taste of West Cork Cream (jelly, raspberry, pavlova, cream) for example, or a sinful cheesecake that combines malteser, cappuccino and butterscotch in one dish.
Given that this is a bar-restaurant - the stylish, comfortably furnished space is divided into two, but with no dividing door, and the curved bar runs along one side - the choice of drinks is predictably wide. As well as a dedicated wine list (including a Reserve List), there are local craft beers from Blacks of Kinsale and 8 Degrees of Mitchelstown, lots of Irish whiskey offerings and gin, of course, the drink of the moment, with well chosen Irish offerings like Bertha’s Revenge (from just up the road in Castlelyons) and Gunpowder from Drumshanbo in County Leitrim available.
All this and consistently prompt and friendly service, too - no wonder The Brook Inn has such a loyal following.