Dede brings a refined and exotic touch to amazing West Cork produce in his new Baltimore venue.

Dede brings a refined and exotic touch to amazing
 West Cork produce in his new Baltimore venue.
Beetroot, and peach

Often it is the simple things that make the meal. Local beetroot, his own bread, even the ice-cream, all stood out during a delicious lunch at Baltimore’s Customs House where top Chef Ahmet Dede may be found these days, just a few steps from The Mews where he helped win a Michelin star in 2018.
Baltimore sunshine

It is all much simpler here in the sunny courtyard with a scattering of rustic tables, a barbecue set up on one side, a young and friendly staff, the menu on a blackboard, the renowned chef himself in and out helping and with time for a chat as was partner Maria. The food for lunch is simple, and simply superb. The sky is blue, the sun high above. On a midday like today, the indoor rooms are redundant.
Chicken mains

Could this get any better? Believe or not, it did. In a gesture that underlines the admiration that Dede has for the people here and they for him, we (all the customers) were invited to taste one of the wines that the management had been trying out in the shade with Fionnuala of Wines Direct. 
Love that Pet' Nat!

Maria, Ahmet’s business partner, told me they do that here and that they want good wines that their customers can afford, particularly by the glass. Our sample was that bit different, a delicious, light and easy-drinking Pet’ Nat, not from France but from Greece! What a lovely bonus. A friendly touch in a friendly and cool place.

They are offering a set menu of three courses on a Thursday, Friday and a Saturday evening at a set price of €50 per person.  The ingredients are sourced locally from the finest, eco friendly and passionate growers, producers, farmers, cheesemongers, foragers, fishmongers and butchers. The menu will constantly change according to the seasons and availability of ingredients, and may change again when hopefully the Covid time-limit is lifted!
We read our simple lunch menu from the blackboard (brought to our table). We both thought it was a bit warm for the Spiced Lentil Soup with sourdough (6.00) so gave it a skip. 
Mega dessert!
There were three salad options on the mains and CL went for the Beetroot, Feta and Peach offering (4 to 6 euro depending on size). The beetroot is at its best right now and Ahmet enhanced that fresh flavour even further with a few slices of peach and also some thin apple slices that were disguised by the red juice but also played a part on the palate. Very enjoyable dish indeed was the verdict! My Blog Chef though would have a little more peach, a little more feta, and a little less beet.
I felt like something more substantial, so picked the quarter rotisserie chicken with bulgar wheat, salad, potatoes and sourdough bread (17.50). Ahmet himself delivered our mains and told me I was having rice instead of the bulgar. He also said they were getting on well here and were very busy overall. So I busied myself with this superb dish, fantastic flavours and textures, reminding me a bit of the (obviously) memorable Farmyard Chicken lunch I had at Café Lavinal in Pauillac a few years ago.
Having skipped the starter, we were up for the dessert: brown butter ice-cream with honey sauce. We weren’t quite prepared for the size of it though, about as big as a wheel of Gubbeen. A very generous round indeed and the sauce was delicious as well. It may have been big but it was finished!
From the deli
We paid up (40 euro including tip) and then took a look at his deli. That has loads of tempting produce, including his salads, his magnificent sourdough, lots of pastries too. Much of the produce is local, including Gloun Cross butter for instance. 
We got a few things here and a bit of advice from Maria. With a Smoked Fish Dip from Sally Barnes and their own Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Dip in the bag, we were told all we needed for a super lunch with the dips was some sourdough. Going down to get that together as soon as I finish up here!
Baltimore was looking splendid when we arrived (and when we left). So we had a good look around, mainly at the boats coming and going from the islands. The little square above the harbour was quite busy too with customers dining in the sun.
But we couldn’t linger any longer and soon we were heading for Skibbereen, Drimoleague and Dunmanway on the way home via the R585. I’d normally prefer the R584 but, with so many interesting stops on that one, we’d have had to make an overnight somewhere, like Gougane. Next time.

Also on this trip:
Mizen Head Visit
Overnight and Dinner at Celtic Ross

Baltimore in the sun