Showing posts with label Kerry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kerry. Show all posts

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016: Best Places to Stay

Best Places to Stay 2016

Stayed in quite a few places this year. From Kerry to Meath, from Donegal to Dublin, from Limerick to Waterford,  from West Cork to Wexford. These were the best. Suggestions for 2017 welcome! 

 Screebe House, Connemara

Killiane Castle, Co. Wexford
Anyone for croquet at Killiane?

Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney.
Cork Recommendations
East Cork
Garryvoe Hotel, East Cork
Samphire Restaurant, Garryvoe Hotel
West Cork
 Celtic Ross Hotel, West Cork
Warren Beach, Rosscarbery

2016 Reviews - see also
Cafes by the side of the road.
Best Hotel Dining Rooms
Meals with a difference

Best Steaks & 3 Best non-Cork Restaurants 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

Le Rustique. Tralee’s French Corner on Prince’s Street

Le Rustique. Tralee’s French Corner on Prince’s Street

The names Guenter and Dagmar Schwark may not sound Gallic but Le Rustique, the restaurant that the couple run on Tralee’s Prince’s Street, is most definitely French. All the wines are French, some very good ones on the list, and most of the menu headlines for the various dishes are in French.

So you’ll be sipping your Burgundy Pinot Noir with Canard de confit, your Pouilly Fumé with Ange de Mer. You’ll also see some classic French dishes eg Camembert frit de Normandie and Soupe À L’Oignon. By the way, the couple are apparently from the French-German border.

And where does the rustic come in? Aside from some “false windows” complete with flower boxes on one wall, there are not that many signs. But there are some dishes that might fit the bill,  Foie D'Agneau " Le Rustique “ (Lambs Liver, to you and me) and perhaps the Paupiette de Poulet (chicken wrapped in air-dried ham) among them. 
Tarte d’Alsace

Oh yes, the chef makes the occasional appearance in the dining room wearing, not the formal whites, but a short-sleeved tee. That sets the tone, casual. Rustic if you like. Don't worry though, sit up and enjoy the food. The sauces are rich but the prices are not.

And the place is comfortable as we found when, after a warm welcome and our candle lit ("for ambience"), we sat back to study the menu. You’ll be glad to know that, aside from the dish headlines, all the details are in plain English. Helpfully too, they suggest wines for some of the main dishes and do watch out for their steak specials, all based on local Hereford beef.

I must admit though that my starter was no more than a bowl of local mussels, though it sounded rather grand when titled Moules Marinieres a LA Créme, the crustaeceans cooked in a white wine, garlic cream and leek jus, served in a mussel pot and french bread. They did taste well though!

CL had chosen the Tarte d’Alsace: oven baked, topped with sour cream, bacon lardons and red onions, an old traditional French dish with lots of butter and cream. Delicious too. She continued with the Canard a l’Orange, the Barbary duck breast fillet on orange sauce, rich and gorgeous and served with Ratatouille and Gratin.

My pick was the Ange de Mer. The Monkfish filet came on a white wine Tarragon sabayon,
glazed asparagus, wild rice and garnish side. A lovely mix of textures and flavours. Another pretty rich dish!

And they would get richer - we knew as we had a look at the short dessert menu! I felt my French waitress would never speak to me again if I didn't take her tip and try the home-made dark mousse au chocolate on vanilla flan. I did, she was happy and so was I. 

I also got a few spoonfuls of CL’s Crème Brûlée, described as “old traditional French dessert, vanilla cream, topped with a crispy sugar crust and caramel, served with Vanilla ice cream”. It was all that, rich and sweet and delicious.

The whiskey drinker will find enough to amuse him or her here but the craft beer drinker is out of luck. A terrific wine list, all French as mentioned earlier. If going for a white, my tip would be the superb Bestheim Pinot Blanc, available by the glass. On the red side, there’s the Denuziere Hermitage and a couple of lovely Pinot Noirs, either the Domaine Muret or Picard Bourgogne will pair well with your rustic duck!

Le Rustique
14 Prince’s Street, Tralee, Co. Kerry
066 718 0832 or 085 87 23326

Hours: Tue-Sat: 12:00PM - 2:30PM, 5:00PM - 10:00PM, closed Sun & Mon

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Randles Hotels Celebrate 50 Years

Ross Castle on the lakes, quite close to Randles Court and Dromhall hotels.
Randles Hotels Celebrate 50 Years
First she said she was six. A little later, Kay Randles admitted to maybe being sixteen when she and husband Neil started in the hotel business in 1964.  That was the year they purchased a bungalow across the road from their thriving garage business in Killarney and opened an 18 bedroom hotel on the site.

Sadly Neil died in 1987 and Kay was left to carry on managing the Dromhall and the other family businesses as well as rearing their six children, three of them at that stage involved in the family business. No stopping Kay and in 1992, The Rectory next door was purchased and another hotel built, this the Randles Court, a 4 star hotel.

The family decided to knock down the Dromhall in 1999 and in June of the following year, it was reopened as the brand new 72 bedroom, conference and banqueting hotel, that it is today, along with the well known Kayne’s Bar and Bistro which is attached to the hotel.
View from the terrace of Randles Court

So in 2014, the four star Dromhall celebrates 50 years in business and that means fifty years in her own hotel business for Kay who still continues to play a major role in its management. The young lady from Kilworth has come a long way from her days working up the ranks in the Victoria Hotel in Cork City. Her teenage dream of having her own guesthouse has been spectacularly surpassed. It was great to have a brief chat with her on a recent visit, even if we didn't get anywhere, not that I was pushing, about her true age back in 1964.

Daughter Susan is the Sales and Marketing Director at Randles Hotels and she is expecting a busy season. We met in the stylish and comfortable drawing room of Randles Court and indeed that style is present throughout the hotel, much of it thanks to Kay.

Susan says that not all diners now require a sit down three or four course meal and so the Randles menu has been adjusted, is more flexible. You can of course still get your big meals but, between the bar menu and the restaurant menu (and that Checkers Restaurant is another striking room), you can have small meals and in-between ones (light bites from seven euro) as well.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Kay Randles start
the celebrations earlier in May.

Everything from Marinated Olives for two euro to a steak. The steaks, served with a Knockanore Smoked Cheese, Onion and Mushroom Tart, Garlic and Rosemary infused Tomato and Pommery Mustard Cream, are supplied by Cronin’s and are as popular as ever.

Late in the evening, we enjoyed some banter and a lovely glass of Rioja in Wiggs Bar and The Conservatory. Wiggs Killarney Bar brings you back in time as it is part of the original building dating back to 1906. Even the stained glass feature has been maintained. Indeed, the original facade of the Rectory has also been maintained and fronts the hotel's reception area.

Our room in Randles Court, by the way, had everything we needed, including WI-FI and views of the mountains, but we also enjoyed some very comfortable furniture and there was no shortage of paintings on the walls. Indeed, you’ll see lots of paintings and sculptures and occasional furniture throughout the hotel, in the rooms and along the corridors. Kay has been collecting for a long time!

The facade of the old rectory was maintained.

And the same high standard is seen in the breakfast room. Terrific service and quite a menu here as well, including the ever popular Full Irish! And they do list their suppliers. On the day, I picked the freshly made Crèpes Normande with Apple Purée. A slightly different start to yet another lovely day in Killarney.

The adjacent Dromhall is another four star hotel and you may check out its many facilities here. We didn’t get to visit this time but we did eat there about a year ago and it was a very enjoyable meal indeed as you can see in this post. And you’ll find a previous review of Randles Court here.

Jarveys pick up passengers in hotel car park

Both hotels are within minutes of Killarney town centre and are ideally situated as a base for the nearby National Park and also the spectacular Ring of Kerry. Killarney is one of my favourite towns as there is so much do in the immediate area and even more in the general County Kerry area. Either of the Randles hotels would make a terrific base if you are following the newly established Wild Atlantic Way.

Other posts on this trip:
The new Heather Restaurant. Eat in style at the Gap of Dunloe.
Twenty Four Hours in Killarney. New bus services.

If you do get to Kerry you may not want to leave. I have details of things to do and see available in my Corkman on Tour blog. See the Kerry portfolio here.

Crèpes Normande for breakfast.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

West End Winner

West End Winner In Killarney Town
Amuse Bouche
Enjoyed a terrific meal at Killarney’s West End House Restaurant at the weekend. It was superb from start to finish, well cooked and well presented food and top notch service from the moment we walked in to this comfortable place.

Buns in a sack!

A tasty Amuse Bouche, featuring Duck Confit, was followed by two tremendous, somewhat unusual starters. Mine was a delicious delight, packed with flavours and textures: Quail - spiced breast, confit sweet potato, quail eggs, merguez, salted grapes and avocado (12.95). And much the same could be said about CL’s which was Rabbit - Ballotine, black pudding, pickled carrot and broad bean  (11.95).
Rabbit (top) and quail starters
They had quite a list of mains but we each picked from the specials and they were special, each every enjoyable indeed. One was Brill with Asparagus, artichoke, baby peppers  Beetroot purée (28.50) while the other was Seared duck breast, chermoula, pak choi, spiced lentil,  jus (29.50). Yum on the double here.
And there was still room for desserts. One was a Crème Brulée with a difference: Kahlua (a coffee-flavored rum-based liqueur) and Espresso Crème Brulée served with a Coffee Macaron while CL’s was also quite prefect: Apple - Tart Tatin, Vanilla Bean ice cream, salt butter fudge, whiskey caramel sauce. Each came in at  €7.50.
The West End re-opened last year after large scale renovations and the team have got their act together pretty quickly. Not alone is the cooking and presentation top class but the portion sizes are really well judged and you can enjoy your three courses without feeling bloated at the end. Must say also that their potatoes and vegetables, that come in the side  dishes, are also cooked to perfection. Besides, it is a lovely place with some five dining rooms in all, and a very friendly front of house team. Didn't meet anyone at the back but they too obviously know their stuff. Very Highly Recommended.


(064) 663 2271
Tue - Sat: 6.00 pm - 9:30 pm


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dine by the Water!

Dine by the Water
Superb food and superb views
Ostan Gweedore at Bunbeg, Donegal
I’ve been very lucky this past few months to have dined in some well placed restaurants, restaurants from Cork to Donegal that have a dining room with a view over water. Sometimes over a river, maybe over an estuary, and then sometimes over the ocean. I was lucky too to have brilliant weather in most of the places.

Let me start with river views. One of the best is from the newly opened Fish Bar inElectric. From the first floor of the South Mall building, you have fine views of the southern channel of Lee to the west and to the east. But have you been to Indigo Brasserie on Washington Street? Here too you have a fine view of a bend in the same river. 

Bunnyconnellan's Myrtilville (Cork)

And another excellent river view is to be found at the Market Kitchen restaurant, above the Murphy Brothers bar in Ballina. It wasn't quite warm enough to dine outside on the balcony but the Moy looked very well from the inside.

Time to move on now, nearer to the ocean, to the bays and estuaries and places such as the Rising Tide and Marlogue Inn in East Cork and further east you have the WalterRaleigh Hotel. You have no shortage in Cobh where you’ll find The Quays and The Titanic Bar. The Boathouse at Dromquinna, near Kenmare, is also well situated, right on the northern flank of the bay.
The Boathouse, Kenmare Bay

No shortage of seaside restaurants in Donegal. One of the best is the Seaview Tavern in Malin Head village but the view to the sea is somewhat interrupted by the cars parking across the road. No such problems at the Rosapenna Golf Hotel, whose dining room overlooks Sheephaven Bay and the beach at Downies. Further west along the same bay, the bar at the Cove at Portnablagh, another top restaurant, overlooks a different part of the same bay.

Back to Cork and to Baltimore and Le Jolie Brise where I’ve sometime enjoyed a dish of mussels as the day drew to a close with the island of Sherkin out in front. Locally, perhaps the best ocean view is that enjoyed from your table in Bunnyconnellan’s, a very pleasant view and very enjoyable food here. Hard to top that. One view that comes close, maybe level, maybe even better, is from the restaurant of Ostan Gweedore where there is the most fantastic view over the beaches and the waters of the Atlantic.
Rosapenna Hotel, Downies (Donegal)
Views are pleasing but you need good food too,
like this platter at the Seaview Tavern in Malin.

Have you a personal favourite view over water while dining? If you'd like to share, please use the Comment facility below.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Treyvaud’s, a Killarney Gem

Treyvaud’s, a Killarney Gem

Treyvaud’s is a gem among Kerry restaurants, a friendly place, noted for its fantastic game night. Paul is the friendly face of Treyvaud’s, starring in numerous food videos on You Tube  (in one, he takes a chain saw to a deer carcase!) and also the author of a book about the business. Paul and brother Mark run the High Street restaurant that is open for both lunch and dinner.

Walked in the last Saturday at lunch-time and thought we’d be on our own, the main reason being that at least half the town were up the country supporting the local football team. But Paul was expecting them back that evening as bookings were strong. And, as it turned out, numbers at lunch also picked up.

There were three of us, including one local who likes the place and says she never has any fear of recommending it. And as we went through the meal, we could see why.

The two ladies started with the soup (5.95) while I choose the Chowder (7.50). This was described as Fresh Seafood Chowder with a melody of shrimp, mussels, and salmon served with homemade bread By the time I reached the end of the deep bowl, I was singing the praises of this gorgeous “melody”.

The Lunch Menu is divided in various sections, including Nibbles, Sambos, Mark’s Specials and Tasty Salads. Treyvaud’s Fish Cakes (with wholegrain mustard and garlic Aioli) lurked among the Nibbles and were promptly seized upon by the two ladies and that meant I had two happy diners alongside me.

I was really tempted by the four dishes under Mark’s Specials and eventually picked the first: Treyvaud’s Homemade pie with Mashed Potato. Some beautiful meat here under a perfect cover of spud, quantity and quality combined to make yet another happy customer.

We had started with some very tasty breads and finished off the very enjoyable meal with excellent coffees.
So, if you ever find yourself wandering around Killarney looking for food, I can certainly recommend Treyvauds.

62 High Street
Killarney, Co Kerry
Phone (064) 663 3062
Mon: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Tue - Thu: 12:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 12:00 pm - 10:30 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel

Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel

 Called into Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel recently and enjoyed an excellent evening meal there. Was staying at the adjacent Randle’s Court and strolled over on a Saturday for a 7.00pm reservation and got a warm welcome. Soon we were comfortably seated and enjoying the rapport with a very friendly and helpful staff.

Started off with their €7.95 Signature Salad ((described as Fresh herb salad, sun blushed tomatoes, pine nuts (missing), crisp croutons (missing), roasted peppers)) with a Balsamic dressing and Char-grilled chicken added. Very enjoyable indeed, also quite substantial, and didn’t really notice the absence of the pine nuts and crisp croutons.
 Then onto to the Plat Principal, the Grilled Irish Prime Beef fillet (€26.95) served with champ potato, garlic butter, and crisp onion rings, and sautéed mushrooms. Not to mention a side dish of gorgeous seasonal vegetables. The steak was excellent, done to perfection and to order.
 Dessert? Well why not? Hung for a sheep as... Each cost €6.95 and the one I picked was the Lemon Tart (a lemon flavoured chilled crème anglaise on a sweet pastry base). Just the sweet job, delicious.

Had been sipping a bottle of a pleasant South African Merlot (Libertas 2010 €24.50) all the way through and finished off with a pot of green tea before heading downstairs to the bar and the music. Enjoyable evening all round in a highly recommended venue.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brewing it up in Ballyferriter

Brewing it up in Ballyferriter

The English tourist could hardly believe his eyes as he drove through Ballyferriter. Bric’s Brew Pub, the sign said. He jammed on the brakes and spent a few happy hours sipping the products of the West Kerry Brewery (Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne). 

My arrival there last weekend was nowhere near as dramatic. I had been looking for the pub, Tigh Bhric, and already knew of its top notch products.

We had met proprietors Paul and Adrienne at the Munster Tweet-up in Blair’s and had already sampled some of their porter which, like the other drinks, is available in Bradley’s, North Main Street.

The summer season is a busy one here in beautiful Ballyferriter and then the crowds start to taper off so it was quite slack on the second Saturday of November. Paul started up the fire and we had a chat and a drink, choosing to go for the Béal Bán, available on draught.

I had already tasted this in Blair’s. It is light and refreshing golden ale with a slight malty sweetness and a bitter finish, imparted by a generous helping of hops. Indeed, one could see why the English aficionado would feel at home here.

Paul was soon joined by Adrienne, the brewer, and they told us that they use water from their own well to brew the beers, both cask and bottled. The Malt is predominantly Irish and the beers are brewed naturally, with no additives or preservatives.

Carraig Dubh is perhaps the best known of the three main beers and one that I certainly enjoy. It is a traditional porter, rich and dark in flavour with plenty of roasted malt giving hints of coffee, vanilla and dark chocolate. A really rich and smooth drink, well worth a try.

Must admit to a liking also for the Béal Bán but I must yet sample the Dark Red Ale, the Cúl Dorcha. This, according to the brewery tasting notes, which are very accurate as regards the other two, is soft and mellow on the palate with a fruitiness suggesting forest berries.

Might have to stay overnight the next time and do a proper tasting of all the beers. And that would be no hardship either as Tig Bhric provides visitors and locals alike with a wide range of services. “From select accommodation to fine food, traditional and contemporary music, and a unique bar with an emphasis on the arts, we offer our customers a service in an authentic setting.” 

“Situated in the middle of some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland, visitors are afforded the opportunity to experience both the landscape, local culture and the numerous activities available within a short distance of our establishment.”

The West Kerry Brewery  itself is a partnership between two pubs with a history of friendship. About four years ago, Tigh Bhric and Tigh Uí Catháin recognised the need to provide their customers with a local brew. They now know that it goes down a treat also with the many visitors to the lovely area. Including this one!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Blúiríní Blasta agus Tigh Bhric

Blúiríní Blasta agus Tigh Bhric. Eating and drinking on the Dingle peninsula. Check it out at my other site

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


In a rural setting, between Kenmare and Glengarriff, in a Kerry village called Bonane, a French chef called Benoit Lorge makes exquisite chocolates that end up in all corners of the world.
This success story started back in 1995 and goes on and on. They ship worldwide via their website  while local stockists here in Cork are Nash 19 (Princes Street) and the Sugar Cafe (Washington Street).

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Killarney with Lake Hotel in foreground


The Killarney Royal Hotel was the base for a recent three night stay in the Kingdom. Centrally situated, this old four star is very comfortable with a fine bar and restaurant. The room was well furnished and very spacious and the staff were friendly all through. It doesn't have a car park but there are at least four close by including one on the Lewis Road where it will cost you just €3.00 for a 24 hour stay.

We had a couple of meals included in the deal and our first evening meal was in the bar/bistro of the Royal. Enjoyed my starter of Kerry Coast Fish Croquettes with leaves. The main course was excellent: Braised Lamb Shank served on a celeriac Mash with a rich onion and Port Wine Sauce. The choice of desserts was fairly standard. I was tempted by the Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble, augmented by some fresh fruit and cream, and it proved a fine finish to the substantial meal.

Wine was a 2009 14.5% Kleine Zalze Pinotage that cost €27.00. A smashing fruity red that went very well indeed with the main course. The following evening, we enjoyed another wine from the Kleine Zalze stable, this an excellent Chenin Blanc at €25.00.
Killarney Lake

The full restaurant was open for this meal on a busy St Patrick's Day and I started with the Deep Fried Crispy Duck Confit Spring Rolls with a seasonal salad and a sweet chilli sauce. Good light starter.

Main course was top class and somewhat lighter than the evening before, as you'd expect: Fennel Seed Seared Salmon on med style ratatouille with a basil pesto and seasonal vegetables.

The dessert, while pleasant enough, didn't really live up to the name: Orange and Cointreau Parfait with Strawberries and a strawberry coulis. Not too much sign of either orange or Cointreau.

Just to say, the seasonal veg served here were really good and that also proved to be the case when we met some friends for a meal out on the following evening. Chapter 40 was closed, due to re-open in April I think; we had been to Treyvaud’s and Gaby’s previously; we had suggestions for Bricín and the Stone Chat but neither could fit in four at the required time.
Path up Torc mountain

Weir Bridge nr Dinis Cottage
On our friends’ recommendations, we booked the Kayne’s Bistro in the Dromhall Hotel where we had enjoyed a light light lunch on one of the days and had spotted a Bridgestone sign on the door. I very much enjoyed my Sea Bass here served on potato mash and with stir fry vegetables.

Again dessert choice was fairly standard but I was happy enough with my apple tart and custard.

The wine was a Paula Sauvignon Blanc from Argentina (priced in the low 20s). Had I tasted blind, I’d have thought I was drinking a New Zealand SB. An excellent drink and good value as well.

We had the usual big choice for breakfast in the hotel and that usually set us up well for the day. But there was always time for a coffee and or a pastry. One of the places to do that in Killarney is the Lir Cafe. This busy little spot is best known for its hot chocolate which is poured in over a few mini-marshmallows. Very popular indeed. 

And no bad place either to pick up some tempting edible gifts as Lir sells a range of chocolates including their own creations.
To check out what we did and saw, click here