Pearse and Mary O’Sullivan’s very popular restaurant is located at the famous Bulman bar at Summercove, near Charles Fort.
Uniquely situated on the outskirts of Kinsale - it looks across towards the town and has a sunny western aspect - The Bulman is a cosy and characterful maritime bar, with loads of charm. It's a great place to be in fine weather, when you can wander out to the seafront and sit on the wall beside the carpark, and it's cosy beside the fire in the downstairs bar in winter.
The O’Sullivans serve interesting, good value lunchtime bar food (Bulman burger, half grilled local lobster with hollandaise sauce, homemade shepherd’s pie) downstairs, while their award-winning restaurant, Toddies (formerly in Kinsale town centre) is on the first floor.
The restaurant is named after Pearse’s grandfather, Toddie O’Sullivan, who was a legendary figure in Irish hospitality – and the connection is a constant reminder of how good things can be in Ireland, when done well.
Pearse and Mary gave the interior a thorough makeover before opening and, as in their previous premises, a dramatic staircase creates a sense of anticipation on arrival at the restaurant which, with its unique westward view through uncurtained windows across the harbour to Kinsale, has perhaps the best location in the area.
A large room with polished wood floor, rough-hewn stone walls and chic striped high-back banquette seating mixed among the chairs, it has a smart-casual atmosphere that sits well with Pearse’s modern classic menus – on the downside, all the hard surfaces (and lack of curtains) mean it can be noisy, especially if there’s a large group dining, so it might be wise to dine early if this is likely to bother you.
Menus are seasonally-led and not too long, offering a choice of about half a dozen starters and main courses, featuring local seafood – lobster risotto is a speciality (starter or main course) or you might begin with home smoked mackerel served with cucumber pickle and sweet potato blinis, perhaps, or Oysterhaven mussels with Gubbeen ham, thyme and onion.
Artisan products such as St Tola cheese (grilled and served with lemon oil, locally grown organic salad and tomato vinaigrette) or Ummera smoked salmon (with cucumber pickle and brown bread) feature, and main courses include variations on popular meat dishes such as char-grilled fillet steak (served with parmesan mash and onion rings, perhaps, and a choice of butters).
Daily specials are also offered – typically a starter of hot Oysterhaven oysters with spring cabbage, home smoked bacon and thyme - and main courses such as grilled hake fillet with tomato and yellow sage risotto & pesto dressing. (Specials are patiently explained by helpful waiting staff but can be hard to hear when the restaurant is busy, so a written note attached to the menu would be a good idea.)
Finish, perhaps, with a well-made passion fruit crème brulée, or sticky toffee pudding, and linger over good coffee while watching the sun go down, if you’re lucky - or head down to enjoy the atmosphere in the bar, where there is often live music as well as plenty of friendly craic.