No shortage of places for lunch in the Ballincollig area but we stumbled on a real contender the other day: the relatively new Oriel Court Hotel ( ).

We had given the place a wide berth since a disastrous Christmas lunch there (the service was dire, though the food was good) but the recent lunch was a revelation in terms of service, quality and value for money.

I started off with a huge bowl of chunky chowder, served with a gorgeous dark brown bread. No complaints here.

Then onto the main course. One of us had an open toasted chicken sandwich which, with salad and chips, turned out to be a quite a substantial dish. Two of us went for the Cajun salmon salad and we were each delighted.

The salad was varied and well mixed in a Marie Rose dressing. Pieces of cold fish, salmon and mussel mainly, were scattered throughout and all topped with a warm salmon piece, mildly spiced with a Cajun crust.

And that wasn't all. We each got two pieces of garlic bread and each of us agreed that this was the tastiest garlic bread we had ever eaten.

Well fed at this stage, we skipped the desserts and finished off with coffee. All this is served in the spacious and luxurious Powder Keg Bar and believe, it or not, most (if not all) the main courses cost a tenner or less and that too applies to the carvery dishes, which also looked of very generous proportions.

We picked from a very large choice on the lunch menu, which the Oriel serves from 12 noon until 5.00pm, so that gives you ample opportunity to go to the hotel and sample.

If you are coming from the west and can’t quite make Ballincollig, then why not call to Mike and Tess Sheehan at the Killumney Inn in Ovens. They have been serving traditional pub lunches for years and have satisfied many hundreds of customers. Satisfied diners return again and again and it is hard to get a place for the very popular Sunday lunch.

Glad to hear too at the weekend, from one of my spies, that La Boqueria, the tapas bar in Bridge Street, continues to serve top class food and wine. Must call again soon!

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