Busy at the Chapel Steps

 Busy at the Chapel Steps

Outside it was gloomy but inside (left) at the Chapel Steps  it was bright and busy. This is Bandon’s newest restaurant, just 8 weeks after its upgrade from cafe status. The signs are promising. It is a lovely space and a big crowd was in last night (Thursday) and great food on the table.

And no great surprise with the top notch food when you are learn that the Head Chef is Kevin O’Regan (ex Electric) and that he is concentrating hugely on the marvellous produce available in the area.

Kevin, along with the owners Sean and Siobhan (her Dad, along his brothers, ran the place as a butcher’s shop from the 1960’s), have instigated a series of speciality evenings.  Wednesday is a great night for steak lovers - choose from an 8oz Fillet, a 10oz Rib-eye or 12oz Sirloin with all the trimmings for only €20 per dish. Thursday is fish night and I took advantage!

 But back to the start and a very warm welcome as we came in from the dark and the wet. Had a chat with restaurant manager Caroline O’Flynn as we settled to the table. We had already been told about the wine special, supplied this month from the McHenry Hohnen vineyard in the Margaret River Region of Western Australia.

Having met founder David Hohnen (he also founded New Zealand’s famous Cloudy Bay and is busy now preparing his Porker legs for the Christmas trade) hardly a month back in Ballymaloe, we naturally went for his wine (Sauvignon blanc Semillon).

Quite a choice of starters and appetisers here. CL went for Pan Seared Rosscarbery Black Pudding - with crubeen croquette, chilli jam and smoked pancetta. Chef Kevin loves his crubeen and this was a great combination to get the meal underway. And so was mine: Home Smoked Duck - with beetroot, port and burnt butter vinaigrette.

Fish, collected early in the morning in Union Hall, is a regular on the menu and there is a good daily choice but an even better one on Thursday. I went for that special: Spiced Monkfish, butternut squash puree, with roast vegetables, chilli, lime and parsley emulsion. Just enough spice to liven it up without dulling the fish flavour. Just loved it, the freshness, the flavours and the combination of the various textures. All for €15.00. A special for sure.

 CL also enjoyed great value even though her €17.00 dish wasn't a special but a regular part of the menu. It was Roast Cod with roast peppers, chorizo, tomato and olive ragu. Another really lovely fish dish and another with a smashing super tasty sauce. Healthy also.

After all that good eating, we treated ourselves to dessert at a fiver each. She really loved the lively flavours of her Autumn Berry and Lemon Roulade with berry coulis and sugared almonds while I was equally happy with my well made Sticky Toffee Pudding with toffee and vanilla sauce, rum and raisin ice cream. This was a piece of real pudding, the sauce an enjoyable addition rather than a disguise.

 Then we met Siobhan who told us about the history of the place and the apprehension ahead of their big step-up from cafe to restaurant. Two months in and it seems that the big step is worthwhile. Early days yet of course but a good start is half the battle. Best wishes for the future then to Kevin, Siobhan and Sean. The Chapel Steps is just a short trip from the city and one that is well worthwhile. No penance here!