Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Castlemartyr's Hunted Hog In Good Hands

 Castlemartyr's Hunted Hog In Good Hands

What would a five-star hotel want with a local pub? That question came up often when news broke that Castlemartyr Resort had bought a local tavern called Hunted Hog, previously owned by the Emporium Consortium and before that by comedian Pat Shortt.

Once I thought about the acquisition, I could see a "good fit". In fact, the "fit" was already established by wedding parties stopping off at the Hog for a pint or two in the old bar, and enjoying the craic on its riverside terrace, before heading to the hotel for the banquet.

So from now on, if you arrive at the junction of the village's Main Street and the road to Garryvoe on a summer weekend, or any time during the wedding season, expect to find a lively scene inside and out. When we arrived for lunch on a rainy March day, it wasn't that lively, nor would you expect it to be so. Our biggest worry was where to get parking close to the venue. We did find it just around the corner but that may not be the case later in the year.

The bar, while retaining its traditional vibe, has been improved and brightened up since we last called in the days under Pat Shortt.  The bar counter is on your right as you enter from the street and the first thing I spotted was a couple of taps with craft beer from the Killarney Brewing Company. Happy to see that and happy to enjoy a glass of their Golden Spear with my lunch.

The main dining room is on your left - just walk through, no doors. There is a well-worn timber floor emphasising the character of the building and quite a few more hints, by way of old bottles, flasks, advertisements and other posters, on the shelves and on the walls. Another area further in on the right has a telly for races and matches. They also have music here at weekends so it doesn't just doze through these winter months.

Indeed we got a lively warm welcome as did everyone else that came in that lunchtime. We were led to our table and soon we were sipping the IPA and studying the shortish menu, short yes but not lacking in quality. Far from it, as we were about to discover. 

They do a roast here daily and our server told us all about the Slow Cooked Brisket and veg. But having had beef at a confirmation meal the evening before, we gave the roast a skip, this time. 

We started with soups. CL enjoyed her Potato and Leek while I also savoured my Seafood Chowder (packed with pieces of fish) and both of these were accompanied by a well-made brown bread. Our excellent server kept an eye on us without overdoing it and checked if we needed more of the bread or more of anything.

Local suppliers and producers are supported by the pub (which is run by Colin and Barry Hennessey): the fish comes from Ballycotton pier, beef and chicken from Clifford's Craft Butchers on Main Street, greens come from the grocer across the road, and whiskey from the distillery in Midleton, all mentioned on the website. What you get here is good quality Irish cuisine.

The Fish Tacos were a good example, the breaded prawns on crispy tacos with a well-dressed selection of organic leaves certainly went down well with CL. More or less the same salad was served with their excellent chicken liver paté, also delicious Cumberland sauce and the bread, instead of the hard doorstep sourdough you often get, was a soft toasted Ciabatta. A terrific combination.

Thumbs up overall for the lunch and happy as we stepped out into the rain with just a short walk needed to get from bar to car.

No comments: