Alan Hegarty’s restaurant and fish shop overlooking the River Vartry in Wicklow Town is a bustling and inviting venue which showcases the finest of local seafood.
The location is ideal for a seafood restaurant and customers can enjoy the waterside activity from the large windows of the restaurant or, on fine days, from one of the al fresco tables.
Alan originally opened the fish shop here in 2012 and it sells fresh seafood sourced from all over Ireland. In the following years, the business evolved with the staging of pop up restaurant nights which proved a big hit - so, building on this success, Alan decided to open as a fully fledged restaurant in October 2015.
The décor has a strong maritime theme, featuring distressed wood and ropes, and strategically placed fishing nets hanging from the ceiling. There are pictures of famous lighthouses and Irish coastal beauty spots too and, along with seashells decorating the cheerful blue and white walls, good lighting - and some speciality produce for sale - it makes an atmospheric setting in which to enjoy good seafood cooking.
The menu is reassuringly simple and uncluttered and consists mostly of seafood classics. Starters typically include seafood chowder, fish cakes and Dublin Bay langoustines, while main courses range from hake or haddock in champagne tempura batter to sea bream with salsa verde.
Specials depend on what is brought in fresh to the shop and might include monkfish, turbot or ray. It’s reassuring that the restaurant’s main supplier is just next door so you can be sure that all of the fish served is really fresh - and the vast majority of the seafood supplied to the restaurant is Irish sourced. The cooking has finesse and everything is full of flavour - heaven for seafood lovers, in fact, although there are also options such as chicken wings and steak, for those who have yet to be converted to the delights of seafood.
The excellent desserts include classics such as a chocolate fudge cake with homemade ice cream, or a delicious flavoured panna cotta – mixed berry perhaps.
Service short but carefully chosen wine list includes plenty by the glass; prices are reasonable and there are tasting notes to help in the decision making. There are some beers available too, and service is excellent - warm, professional and very efficient.
Local legend Sammy the Seal is a regular visitor to the fish shop. There is even a pedestrian crossing to keep him safe on his journey to and from the river.
All round this is a terrific destination, offering generous portions of fresh, skilfully cooked food in an inviting ambience. No wonder word about The Lighthouse is spreading - its growing popularity is very well deserved.