Lunching in Munster
Inland Treats off the Main Roads.
|Take a stroll on the banks of Lough Derg. Maybe a cruise after lunch at Wood & Bell in Killaloe.|
Did a fair bit of munching in Munster during 2018, much of it away from the coast. Seaside dining venues are of course extremely popular but there are some excellent spots too inland, quite a few just off the main roads.
When you are on the main roads and motorways and need a lunch, you sometimes wonder where to stop. Tipperary is one such county and its towns are well served by cafés and restaurants.
|Sweet, at Lava Rock.|
You’ll often see Cahir on motorway signboards. If you get peckish in the area, why not try Lava Rock? It is on on Castle Street (park down by the castle, which can also be visited) and has been gathering good reviews and awards since it opened four years ago.
With the kitchen open to the main room of the restaurant, we could see the attention to detail and that showed too on the appetising plates. Lunch was very enjoyable and I’m sure that the evening meals would be even more so. Choices aren't as expansive in the middle of the day but still they had plenty to offer.
|Lovely outdoor dining area at Mikey Ryan's|
You’ll be well fed too in Cashel especially if you call to Mikey Ryan’s . Artisan food producers are supported here and you’ll see Toons Bridge, Cashel Blue, Galtee Honey, Gubbeen, KIllenure Castle (dexter), The Good Herdsmen, Annie’s Organic Farm and Comfrey Cottage Cashel among those mentioned.
The menu “is founded on the culinary principles of freshness, seasonality and a focus on quality ingredients prepared with care”. My kind of restaurant and very highly recommended.
|The ancient walls of Fethard|
In historic Fethard, Dooks Fine Food has a prime position at the bottom of the main street, alongside the Clashawley River, at the junction of the Clonmel and Urlingford roads and opposite a large car park. Richard Gleeson’s restaurant and deli is spacious and bright, lots of local food for you to enjoy inside, or on the seats outside and, of course, you can easily put a picnic together if you shop at the deli.
Before our lovely lunch here, we took a walk along the medieval area of Fethard, and afterwards we called to the Apple Farm, near Cahir, on the way home.
Tipperary Town is serendipitously situated in the centre of a great food producing area. Not just Tipperary county itself but all the neighbours, though the county itself includes the world class cheese producers Cashel Blue. The near neighbours also include the likes of Crowe’s Pork, White Gypsy Beers and Cashel Fine Foods. And a bit further away, in the south west, nationally known producers such as Gubbeen and Skeaghanore Duck.
You can get all these and more on your plate at Prime 74, a relatively new restaurant in Tipperary Town, not too far from the motorway. Chef and owner Martin Lavelle is dedicated to seasonal and local and is doing a great job in this lovely premises at 74 Main Street (park in nearby Market Place).
After seeing the venerable buildings, including Hayes Hotel, in the square at Thurles, the Source Arts Centre around the corner is something of a pleasant surprise and even more pleasant when you find yourself in the cheery bright room where Stef Hans serves up delicious food. Shame that this lovely café has recently closed. But do check out Cafe Hans in Cashel. Must call there myself sometime soon.
|Watch out for Farmers Markets across the region, like this one in Killavullen|
Head over now to County Clare and lunch by the Shannon at the Wood and Bell in Killaloe. This restaurant was opened in late 2017 by local and Irish rugby legend Keith Wood and business partner Malcom Bell.
|Call to the Apple Farm in Cahir for fruit, including these delicious cherries|
Wood and Bell has the advantage of having their own walled garden nearby, overlooking Lough Derg and the river. The garden, cared for by Wood and his wife Nicola, now produces much of the fruit, vegetables and herbs for the kitchens. We enjoyed our lunch here and can certainly recommend Wood and Bell.
It seems that I’ve neglected inland Waterford, and Limerick as well, over the past year. If you have any tips, please let me know. One of the very best lunches we enjoyed in 2018 though was in the coastal village of Ardmore at the Cliff House, just off the main Cork-Waterford road.
|Lunchtime view at the Cliff House|
And back to the main roads now. If you are heading out of Cork and looking for breakfast or lunch then make your stop at Mitchelstown and visit O’Callaghan’s Café on the main street. Here, the extensive menu changes daily. On a recent visit, there were no less than three soups on the specials and also a tempting starter based on Crowe’s crispy pancetta. Crowe’s are just one of their many local suppliers.
Lots of main course specials too, all priced around the 12 to 14 euro mark. There was a Red wine braised boeuf bourguignon, a pan-fried fillet of cod, Vegetarian baked flat mushrooms, and a vegetarian quiche, just to give you an idea. All substantial dishes indeed. And there were salads and sandwiches of course.
|Munster has many delicious cheeses, including the very special St Tola|
that you'll see on quite a few menus.
By the way, if you find yourself travelling from Mitchelstown in the direction of Kilkenny or Waterford, you could make a stop at the Dove Hill Irish Design Centre a few miles east of Carrick-on-Suir. Meadows and Byrne and Blarney Woollen Mills are among the outlets here. Fashion, Homewares, Furniture and Food are the main areas of interest. Quite a few Irish producers represented in the major food display and there is also a very large stand-alone garden centre on-site.
|Sweet things at the Ardkeen Quality Food store in Dove Design Centre, Carrick-on-Suir|
There is a busy café Lily Mai’s on the mezzanine of the main building. We weren't long after lunch in Mitchelstown, so we called to the newly opened Ardkeen Food café for a coffee. It has its own cottage-style entrance but is also part of and fully open to the main building - more shopping here, Pandora Bell nougat and Lorge chocolate included - before enjoying a cup of Joe from their barista. The coffee was good but I must say I always find it hard to enjoy it fully in a paper cup - I know I may be in a minority here!
|A wall of whiskey at Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder in Killarney|
No shortage of visits to Kerry. Recently I’ve enjoyed my lunch-time calls to the Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder in Killarney. You may eat as much or as little as you like here in this friendly place, anything from soup of the day to a substantial pie. Speaking of which, one of our favourites was the very tasty Chicken, Leek and Mushroom pie. Others to watch out for are the Lamb Liver, with streaky bacon and slathered in a delicious onion gravy and served with sourdough toast and their Roast Barbary Duck Salad.
Heather, on the Gap of Dunloe, is well worth a visit. And don’t miss out on The Strawberry Field and Pancake Cottage about 3 kilometres out the Sneem Road from Moll’s Gap.
|You'll find craft beer across Munster|
at restaurants such as Blair's Inn.
Believe it or not, this rural treasure has been here, not forever, but since 1997. Then Margaret and Peter Kerssens opened their family business, now very popular with locals and tourists alike. The farmhouse itself has stood here looking out over the Kerry mountains and valleys since the 1800s and these days it is both a restaurant specialising in pancakes and also a craft shop (includes oil paintings by Margaret).
Back to Cork then and in the village of Cloghroe you’ll find Blair’s Inn. In winter, the fires are burning and the company's good. You’ll get the same company in the summer in the garden by the little Sheep River.
And it’s also a terrific place for craft beer, one of the first places in Ireland where I was given a multi-page craft beer menu to choose from. Excellent well sourced well cooked food is a given here. A laugh and a smile are also guaranteed, directions too if you’re a tourist seeking the next beauty spot or watering hole; they’ve even been known to change a wheel for a customer.
So no need to worry if you're on the motorways of Munster and start to feel hungry! A good lunch is never very far away. Happy Munching as you visit the Munster towns.