Since the mid 1980s West End House has been home to one of Killarney’s best-loved restaurants and, following a change of ownership, the whole building was given the most sympathetic of makeovers.
This listed building has a fascinating history and its previous uses include (appropriately) housing one of Ireland’s oldest schools of domestic science, the Killarney School of Houswifery, which was founded here by Lady Kenmare in 1906.
Opting to retain the previous owners’ Tyrolean theme in the downstairs bar - which has a huge feature fireplace in the end wall – sets an atmospheric tone for the series of romantically cottagey rooms that now includes two bars, several dining rooms on two levels and a music venue.
Open fires work their magic throughout, and the décor is a well judged combination of opulence and understated elegance, with quirky modern touches adding a casual contemporary flavour to the old world atmosphere: a wonderful setting for inspired food.
Head chef Paul Carew arrived at West End House via some impressive establishments including the Killarney Park Hotel and Cliff House Hotel Ardmore, and this is reflected in his stylish cooking.
This Killarney restaurants menus change with the seasons and the introduction of original new dishes, but constants include key ingredients from Kerry and West Cork. Treats to look forward to include Dingle seafood; beef from favoured suppliers Cronin's and Eamon Sheahan; Skeaghanore duck; Toons Bridge mozzarella and ricotta; local cheeses, proudly showcased on a Munster Cheese Board - and, unusually, carrots from the sandy soil of the Maharees, near Castlegregory, which feature in a speciality Maharees Carrot Cake with orange, mascarpone and carrot crisp.
The good food, friendly staff and the relaxed atmosphere may well encourage you to stay on and relax in the upstairs bar for a while after dinner.
A delightful spot, and another Killarney dining destination that is full of character - no wonder it has such a following: don't forget to book!