Showing posts with label Blue Haven. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blue Haven. Show all posts

Friday, February 2, 2024

Meeran Manzoor of Rare Restaurant in Kinsale Wins Ireland’s Chef of The Year

Meeran Manzoor of Rare Restaurant in Kinsale
 Wins Ireland’s Chef of The Year

A Blue Haven Double with gold also
in Best Family Run Hotel Group

Meeran Manzoor, Executive Head Chef of The Blue Haven Collection and Rare Restaurant, took home gold in Ireland’s Chef of The Year category at the Virgin Media Business Gold Medal Awards. Winners were announced on Tuesday 30th January at a black tie event held in the Galmont Hotel & Spa in Galway.

Meeran said “It is always a great feeling to get recognised, and it gives both me and the team a boost of motivation going into the new year. This award also honours my amazing team in Rare, I see it as a collective award for all of us, acknowledging all the hard work that goes into producing the food and experience we are so proud of in Rare.

The menu in Rare is influenced by Meeran’s Tamil Nadu heritage; diners can choose from a five-course tasting menu or a seven-course tasting menu which are both available with wine pairings. 

Judged by industry experts, the Virgin Media Gold Medal Awards recognise and reward excellence in hospitality and catering operations across Ireland. The judging panel reviews a set of criteria including a blind site inspection to decide the winners of each category. 

The Blue Haven Collection also won Best Family Run Hotel Group in Ireland at the Virgin Media Gold Medal Awards. The collection includes The Blue Haven Hotel, The Old Bank Townhouse and The Schull Harbour Hotel, Hamlets Bar & Kitchen, Kielys of Cork and Black Barrel Midleton. 

Rare at The Blue Haven is located in The Blue Haven Hotel on Pearse Street, Kinsale, Co Cork. For more information see

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Cork City newcomer Paladar is Bar of the Year!


2023 Bar of the Year Awards Winners Announced!
Paladar in Co. Cork was named Bar of the Year at this year's prestigious Bar of The Year Awards ceremony which took place in the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road.
Celebration time for Paladar and Cask

Amongst the galaxy of contenders, the most exceptional bars have been recognized and celebrated for their extraordinary contributions to the hospitality industry. These establishments have elevated the art of mixology, ambiance, and service, captivating patrons with unforgettable experiences.

After rigorous evaluation and deliberation by an esteemed panel of industry experts only the best in the industry were crowned winners. Amongst many other winners on the night, Bar No 23. at The Merrion Hotel in Co.Dublin took home Gold for "Five Star Hotel Bar of the Year" Sponsored by London Essence, while BAR 1661 took home Gold for "Innovative Bar of the Year", Sponsored by Istil 38.

The winners were announced on Monday, the 21st of August at a gala awards ceremony hosted by Anton Savage at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road.
Montenotte's Ray Kelleher has an even bigger smile than usual!

Bar of the Year 2023 Winners
5 Star Hotel Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - Bar No 23. at The Merrion Hotel, Co.Dublin
Silver Winner - The Courtyard Bar at Carton House, A Fairmont Managed Hotel, Co.Kildare
Bronze Winner - The Sidecar Bar at The Westbury, Co.Dublin
Sponsored by London Essence
Bar Food of the Year
Gold Winner - Blake's Bar Galway, Co.Galway
Silver Winner- The Blue Haven Kinsale, Co.Cork
Bronze Winner - The Hideout, Co. Kildare
Best Bar To Watch The Match
Gold Winner - Woolshed Baa & Grill Cork, Co.Cork
Silver Winner - Dignam’s Bar, Co. Monaghan
Bronze Winner - Buskers On The Ball, Co. Dublin
Sponsored by Sky Business
Best Designed Bar / Inside Space
Gold Winner - The Montenotte Hotel, Co. Cork
Silver Winner - The Gables, Co. Dublin
Bronze Winner - Paladar, Co. Cork
Best Live Entertainment Bar
Gold Winner - The Porter House, Co. Mayo
Silver Winner - The Blue Haven Kinsale, Co. Cork
Bronze Winner - O’Donoghue Public House, Co. Kerry
Best Newcomer
Gold Winner - Paladar, Co. Cork
Silver Winner - Kodiak, Co. Dublin
Bronze Winner - The Gables, Co. Dublin
Best Value Pub
Gold Winner - Oasis Bar, Co. Donegal
Silver Winner - The Black Forge Inn, Co. Dublin
City Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - Left Bank, Co. Kilkenny
Silver Winner - Lemon & Duke, Co. Dublin
Bronze Winner - The Front Door Pub, Co. Galway
Sponsored by Schweppes
Cocktail Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - BAR 1661, Co. Dublin
Silver Winner - Paladar, Co. Cork
Bronze Winner - 9 Below, Co. Dublin
Sponsored by Maker's Mark
Craft Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - Caribou, Co. Galway
Silver Winner - Lock 13 Brewpub, Co. Kildare
Bronze Winner - Impala, Co. Cork
Gastro Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - The Dew Drop Inn & Brewhouse, Co. Kildare
Silver Winner - Monks, Co. Clare
Bronze Winner - Russells Seafood Bar, Doolin, Co. Clare
Sponsored by Classic Drinks
Gin Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - Andy’s Bar Monaghan, Co. Monaghan
Silver Winner - Tigh Nora, Co. Galway
Bronze Winner - HYDE Bar & Gin Parlour, Co. Galway
Sponsored by Xin Gin
Hotel Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - HYDE Bar, Co. Galway
Silver Winner - The Montenotte Hotel, Co. Cork
Bronze Winner - Dunes Bar & Bistro at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, Co. Cork
Sponsored by Tia Maria
Innovative Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - BAR 1661, Co. Dublin
Silver Winner - Nevins Newfield Inn, Co. Mayo
Bronze Winner - Cask, Co. Cork
Sponsored by Istil 38
Late Bar / Nightclub of the Year
Gold Winner - 37 Dawson Street, Co. Dublin
Silver Winner - r.i.o.t. Dublin, Co. Dublin
Bronze Winner - 1314 at Jerry Flannerys, Co. Limerick
Local Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - Dignam’s Bar, Co. Monaghan
Silver Winner - Peadars Bar Moate, Co. Westmeath
Bronze Winner - The Railway Tavern, Fahan, Co. Donegal
Sponsored by New Payment Innovation Limited
Outside Space of the Year
Gold Winner - House Dublin, Co. Dublin
Silver Winner - Kenny’s of Lucan, Co. Dublin
Bronze Winner - Nevins Newfield Inn, Co. Mayo
Outstanding Customer Service Award
Gold Winner - The Landmark, Co. Dublin
Silver Winner - Russell’s Saloon Gin Emporium, Co. Louth
Bronze Winner - Harrigan’s Bar & Grill, Co. Kildare
Sponsored by Cointreau
Restaurant Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - FIRE Steakhouse & Bar, Co. Dublin
Silver Winner - The Club At Goffs, Co. Kildare
Bronze Winner - Mama Yo, Co. Dublin
Sponsored by Coole Swan
Tourist Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - The Brazen Head, Co. Dublin
Silver Winner - The Locke, Co. Limerick
Bronze Winner - Brass Fox Wicklow, Co. Wicklow
Sponsored by QuickTips
Traditional Bar of the Year
Gold Winner - The Stag’s Head, Co. Dublin
Silver Winner - Gracie’s Bar, Co. Sligo
Bronze Winner - The Brazen Head, Co. Dublin
Visitor Attraction of the Year
Gold Winner - Roe & Co Distillery, Co. Dublin
Silver Winner - Lock 13 Brewpub, Co. Kildare
Bronze Winner - The Black Forge Inn, Co. Dublin
Sponsored by Excel Recruitment
Whiskey Bar Of The Year
Gold Winner - The Shelbourne Bar Cork, Co. Cork
Silver Winner - Sonny Molloy’s Irish Whiskey Bar, Co. Galway
Bronze Winner - Costigan’s Pub, Co. Cork
Sponsored by Roe & Co
Pub Group of the Year
Gold Winner - Nola Clan
Sponsored by Alliance Ireland
Staff Personality of the Year
Ian Murray
Bar Manager of the Year
Conor Moloney
People's Choice Award
Dublin - The Black Forge, Co.Dublin
Leinster - The Hideout, Co.Kildare
Munster - The Locke, Co.Limerick
Connacht / Ulster - McHughs Bar, Co.Leitrim
Overall Winner - The Locke, Co.Limerick
Judges Choice
Winner - Jimmy Rabbittes
Gail Cotter Special Recognition Award
Winner - Mary Kerrigan, Clayton Hotel Burlington Road
Bar of the Year
Winner - Paladar
Sponsored by Licensing World

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Warm Welcome and Superb Food at Finín’s of Midleton

Warm Welcome and Superb Food at Finín’s of Midleton


You walk in from the wind and the rain and there’s a buzz of conversation and then a smiling welcome and soon you are warming up at your table in Finin’s of Midleton on the last Thursday of 2022. It’s your final meal out of the year and it is a good one!

The packed downstairs room, and the staff  led by example by manager Tomislav, exudes welcome and warmth and you are immediately at ease, soon at your table and checking the menu from new Portuguese Head Chef Miguel Soares. 


The long-standing and popular restaurant was taken over by Blue Haven of Kinsale and opened mid 2022 after a period of renovation. In addition to this downstairs room, with the a feature along much of one side, they have also opened the room upstairs. 

And there’s more to come.  The frontage, on the main street, is slated for a makeover. And there are plans are in hand for another upstairs space in 2023; this new private dining room cum Whiskey Tasting Room will be  in conjunction with Redbreast.  But you won’t have to wait until then for whiskey. They have a splendid selection in the bar and that includes the complete Mitchell & Son Spot collection.

The new owners are pleased with the way things are going here: We have ambitious plans to build Finins into something special over time including some exciting additions in the new year in conjunction with Red Breast with a new private dining room and Whiskey Tasting Room. 

We are very excited about what the future holds for Finins and appreciate the support and warm welcome we have received in Midleton and look forward to playing our part in the local community for many years to come. 


And we was well pleased with our meal there. You can start with either something from the Nibbles or Starters section on the menu or both! Don’t forget to check the Specials before you start  - the staff will tell you anyhow.

We shared the Slow Cooked Oxtail Croquettes (with Dijonnaise Sauce & Smoked Gubbeen Cheese) and the Pork Belly Chicharrones (served with Avocado Cream & Mojito Sauce). The first (5.50) was from Nibbles, the second (8.50) from Starters, and both were excellent though the Chicharrones were my favourite!

From this and a previous visit, it seems that their burgers along with Fish and Chips are very popular dishes here; the restaurant caters for family groups.

Finin’s responds to the seasons and I absolutely enjoyed the excellent Wild Venison Loin (with Celeriac Purée, Garden Peas, Berry Medley & Smoked Jus).  This was just exquisite, so tender, so well executed and those little berries added so much to it.

Apple Tart

Another excellent mains, enjoyed by CL,  is the East Cork Lamb Rump with Organic Carrot Purée, Romanesco, Caramelised Silver Skin Onions & Jameson Jus Barley. And each of our mains was accompanied by a side of mash and greens.

We finished off with a shared dessert of Apple Tart and cream. It was one of the better ones,  a terrific warm dish and a boost against the windy weather outside!


Opening Times: Tuesday - Saturday 12.00pm - 11.00pm; Serving food until 9.00pm

Address: 75 Main Street, Midleton, Co. Cork P25E6F7

Tel: (021) 463 1878. 

Web: Finín's

Monday, November 28, 2022

Wonderful Tasting Menu in Rare with chefs Meeran and Chad showcasing the Autumn bounty of Cork and Kerry

Wonderful Tasting Menu in Rare with chefs Meeran and Chad showcasing the Autumn bounty of Cork and Kerry

Teamwork. Concentration from chefs Meeran (right) and Chad (centre)

An rud is annamh is iontach!

Thought I might start with an old Irish proverb: what’s rare is wonderful.

And Kinsale’s Rare 1784 was certainly wonderful last Thursday night when Head Chef Meeran Manzoor and guest Chef Chad Byrne (Brehon Hotel) served up a six course festival of local food in one of the most comfortable dining rooms around.

Lots of nationalities involved in the kitchen and out front, including Rebel Cork and the Kingdom, plus a Rare crew that has people from India and Brazil and from places in between.

Chad, also well known for The Hungry Donkey food truck, brought a treasure trove of goodies from Kerry to the Blue Haven’s premier restaurant, including some of the finest cured and dried meats from Olivier in Dingle, Eileen’s black pudding from Annascaul, the famous Ardfert spuds, Wilma’s cheese, Venison from Beaufort, Wild Sloes and Cromane mussels.

Meeran, of course, has his finger on the pulse of all that’s best in Cork, particularly the growers and fishermen in and around Kinsale, and also adds a well judged touch of his native India. Both chefs and their crew were visible through a large window to the kitchen. They didn’t stay there, coming out regularly to detail the dishes and have a conversation or two with the tables.

And it wasn’t just in the kitchen that Rare excelled. The front of house team, led by restaurant manager Charlie, were busy but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have the odd chat with you. They came to the tables with big smiles, informal but on the ball, you never had to ask for water (or something stronger!).

Cheese, black pudding, potato

Quite a wine list! We started with two engaging whites. One was Carallan Albarino, a fine example of the wine of Rias Baixas,  quite pronounced on both the nose and fruity palate, excellent with the lighter dishes. The zesty Diez Siglos Verdejo, vibrant and intense, from Rueda (the home of the grape), paired well also with the earlier plates.

Love my BoJo

Later we moved on to two stunning reds. Gamay is always on my radar and I plumped for the organic Les Pépites Gneiss, fresh, fruity and nicely spicy. Big thumbs up for that and the same from the other side where CL renewed acquaintance with the multi-grape aromatic, fruity and intense (perfect with venison) Quinta do Judeu.

The dining started with the Organic Kerry Wild Meat Board (by Olivier), all kinds of tastes and textures (that soft goat chorizo!) and all superb. Then on to Jamie’s Oyster from nearby Oysterhaven, beautifully presented and accompanied by Alexander’s Jelly and a Ginger Beer Foam. Jamie’s oysters never disappoint and here the jelly and the foam enhanced it.

Scallop, Sole

And the plates just kept getting better. Eileen’s Annascaul Black Pudding made a huge tasty contribution as it combined with the renowned Ardsallagh Goats Cheese on an Ardfert potato skin!

Up next came the fish, a  two part perfectly cooked wonder with Union Hall Sole and Scallop in a Vol-au-Vent with a little Yuzu in the bisque. Chef Chad: “..really tasty dish of bang in season gear”.


For me the star course of the superb meal came with the Beaufort venison: Sika Deer, Cromane Mussels and Roasted Celeriac. The deer had been roasted for six to seven hours and was beautifully flavoured. The sloe jus was just amazing, a great fit with the meat. And that meat was as tender as can be, yielding easily to the blade of our  “chopper” knife!

A wee pause then before dessert came and that too was rather special: Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Kulfi. Meeran’s dark chocolate walnut cremeux was enhanced by Achill seasalt and Szechuan caramel and crunchy bits. Kulfi is a no-churn Indian ice cream. And there was also an Indian twist to the Petit Four that came in a mini-treasure chest!

Petit Fours

Quite a wonderful meal and occasion in Rare and there’s a promise of more. So do keep an eye on their socials!




Thursday, August 11, 2022

Midleton’s Finín’s Up And Running Under New Owners

 Midleton’s Finín’s Up And Running Under New Owners

A lesson on the double from my first visit to Midleton’s Finín’s after its recent takeover, and make-over, by Kinsale’s Blue Haven. In the same way as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a dish by how it looks. Even if the dish does look laid as the French say or moche as their teenagers would put it or just plain berk as the more outspoken might emit.

Hardly the most enticing Tiramisu to look at
but it is one of the best!

Toulouse Sausage
Let me start at the end, with the dessert, a Tiramisu. It came in a little bowl and looked like an emoji that had been badly designed. Yet it was superb, one of the best we’ve come across in recent times. Just seemed to have all the correct ingredients and it was sensational on the palate. Perhaps a presentation in a glass would have improved the initial impression but I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

And the other less-than-good-looking dish also provided a very happy outcome. This was the French onion soup (below), looked rather muddy in the bowl, but turned out fantastically well, sweetly delicious, another that was one of the best of its kind tasted on a long long while. A very big thumbs up here or, as the French might say: C’est vraiment très bon or perhaps just Miam! (Yum!).

Not the prettiest to look at but a joy to eat.

Black's KPA
Both dishes came from the specials board on the night and indeed the vast majority of our meal came from that board, though they do have quite a choice on the regular menu. We got a warm welcome and were soon seated downstairs - upstairs will not be ready for a few weeks yet. The bar, with its full length mirror behind, looks inviting and that was even more the case when I saw a tap for Black’s Kinsale Pale Ale, an excellent local beer and a favourite of mine. 

In face they have quite a choice of other craft beers in bottle including Porterhouse, Kinnegar and Galway Bay and also cider by Stonewell from Nohoval. Local producers are also supported when it comes to food and their suppliers include Horizon Farms in Kinsale, Harty's Cheddar, West Cork Olives, Ummera Irish Smokehouse, Cliona Dairy, Gubbeen Smokehouse, Jim Crowley's Butchers & Ballycotton Seafood (just across the street in Midleton).

It was a busy evening but the friendly staff did well, gave us a few tips when we were choosing and all worked out fine. Our other starter was from the regular menu: a deliciously crunchy Tempura of Broccoli, served with basil mayo and crispy Parma Ham and parmesan.

Mains include Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle, Smoked Chicken Caesar salad, and Catch of the Day. We could see from the dishes coming out from the kitchen that their Burger and Fish and Chips are very very popular indeed.

On the Specials, we picked the Seafood Salad, Samphire and burnt lemon but our server explained it was more like a seafood medley and immediately the board was changed to a Seafood Selection. That came with a helping of fries and went down well indeed, especially the mussels and also the min-portion of Fish (cod) and Chips.

My choice was the Toulouse Sausage dish, with Thyme mash, roasted parsnip, black pudding and red wine jus. Flavours were excellent though. I had been expecting a heart rustic dish and that was exactly what I got. Fairly priced too at €16.50 as was the Seafood Selection at €18.90.

They were just into their second week after the opening under the new owners but, with many of the staff retained, they were going well, off to a good start. Finín’s will be worth keeping an eye on in the months ahead, especially with an experienced and respected chef as Pat Kiely (ex Les Gourmandises) at the helm.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Kiely’s of Cork. Maylor Street Chipper With A Difference.

Kiely’s of Cork. Maylor Street Chipper With A Difference.

Ummera Smoked Chicken

Kiely’s Chipper in Maylor Street was long regarded as a leader in the market but the 1940 enterprise faded from the scene in the noughties. 

Now though, in 2022, Kinsale’s Blue Haven have revamped the premises and have also revamped the menu; it is still fish and chips but the new crew have added a few attractive touches of their own. For instance, how many chippers do Ummera Smoked Chicken fritters? How many offer dessert?

But let us start with the basics. They have three versions of their homemade chips; you may have them with a Garlic Aioli, Guacamole, or Parmesan and Truffle Mayonaisse.

Catch of the Day

Move on up the menu a bit and you see Seafood Croquettes with tartare sauce and those Ummera Smoked Chicken Fritters. They don’t mention that both of these also come on a base of fries. Indeed, they are two substantial enough boxes. The croquettes are packed full of fish and the chicken fritters, all six of them, are delicious, especially with that tomato relish.

For another few euro, the choice increases again. And they include Homemade Chips with 56 hour sous vide beef stew and crispy shallot. Also the Homemade Chips with Pulled Chicken Thai Curry, radish, chilies and Sesame seeds.  How about the Chip Butty (Cuthbert’s White Sliced Pan, Seafood croquette, tartare sauce, crunchy slaw and homemade chips)?

Fish croquettes

The €14.50 Catch of the Day (tempura haddock, prawn, calamari, with homemade chips, sesame seed, lemon and Kiely’s Special Sauce) also falls into that category. It is delicious and a meal in itself.

Extra sauce for one euro
One that I enjoyed was the Prawn Scampi  (15.50). It came with homemade chips, crunchy slaw and Togarashi Mayonnaise. A big bunch of well cooked prawns, excellent chips (as was the case all through) and another good sauce, not to mention the crunch of the slaw. Couldn’t eat another bite!

But if you could, they have Churro with deep fried banana, strawberry or chocolate sauce. Are Kiely’s the only chipper that offer dessert?

Scampi and Togarashi sauce

Like most chippers, it is not a sit-down premises, though there are a couple of small tables outside on the street. Kiely’s is well set up for online ordering. Make your choices, click and collect. Our order was close to being ready when we called (we were a little early) and they handed out a chip or two as we waited and soon the lovely chatty crew had us on our way.