Showing posts with label Gap of Dunloe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gap of Dunloe. Show all posts

Friday, August 8, 2014

Heather’s Sunny Opening. New Gap of Dunloe Restaurant.

Heather’s Sunny Opening
New Gap of Dunloe Restaurant
Rachel Allen and Denis Pio Moriarty at Heather opening.

The sun shone, the band played, the crowd came, saw and approved as Heather, the new restaurant at The Gap of Dunloe, was officially opened by Rachel Allen yesterday. Ailish and Denis Pio Moriarty are the enterprising couple behind Heather, on the same site where Denis Pio’s parents established a shop, “in a shed”, fifty years ago. Amazingly that little shop has grown gradually into an amazing place.

Still some growing to do though. Ailish and Denis Pio have invested here both in the restaurant and in the large split level garden around it. The gardens looked well yesterday but I’m really looking forward to seeing them fully in bloom come next summer.

Rachel Allen, who obviously enjoyed the engagement, immediately saw similarities between the Moriartys and her own family, noting their shared commitment to good Irish food. And the Moriartys had some of their producers there yesterday, including Mountain Man and his craft beers, some gorgeous Kerry cheeses, Sasta Sausages (long queues for their products!), and Maurice Gilbert of Ballyhoura Apples with his great range of apple drinks.
Knockatee cheese
By the way, the gardens, which have amazing views towards the famous Gap of Dunloe, are not entirely decorative. Many fruit bushes have been planted on the slopes and the fruits will be used for jams, relishes and chutneys. And just across the little river that runs in front of the shop and restaurant, the newly built polytunnel is already producing salads and edible flowers for the restaurant and Head Chef Christian Conte is making the best of them.
Lots of samples from the kitchen were available for the guests yesterday. The wine flowed but the most popular drink was the Elderflower and Sparkling Water Cordial. That went down well with young and old and beat tea into second place!

Clare, Yours Truly, Jennifer and Karen

Delighted to meet up with Ailish and Denis Pio again and also with restaurant manager Jennifer Dowling. Also with Greg Canty and Deirdre Waldron of Fuzion who helped make the relaxed event run like clockwork - not that they were waving stop watches or anything. No shortage of tweeters either and we enjoyed the chats with Karen Coakley and Elke O’Mahony.

Heather is now up and running, a far cry from the time when young budding entrepreneur Michael Moriarty went up the mountain many years ago to pick bunches of heather flowers to sell to the passing tourists. A little enterprise goes a long long way!

A lovely day and I’m sure there’ll be many many more of them in the years to come.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Heather. Eat in Style at Gap of Dunloe.

Heather. A Taste of The Gap.

Quiche, Heather Style. Very Highly Recommended!
The new Heather Restaurant at the Gap of Dunloe is at once a celebration of the past and a confident step into the future. It is also backing local producers and the food, including provenance, cooking and presentation, is really excellent, and that can only be good for tourists and locals alike.

Fifty years ago, the enterprising Moriartys opened a small gift shop close to the entrance of the renowned Gap, a spectacular valley, with cliffs and lakes and a huge echo, created in the dim and distant past by ice on the move.

Their warm welcome and quality goods proved a successful combination and bit by bit they expanded the shop, so much so that the family had to leave and find a new house! Husband and wife Michael and Margaret Moriarty started that wee store in 1964 and it predominantly operates in the coach tour market, welcoming visitors as they enjoy The Ring of Kerry tour.
Smoked Mackerel Salad.
The shop, offering high quality Irish goods, including a great selection of clothing and gifts, is still going strong. A new generation, Denis Pio Moriarty and his wife Ailish (who showed me around in midweek), has taken up the reins and the couple are guiding the new venture, playing a pivotal role in the interior and exterior designs.

It is not just a restaurant. Five acres of multi-level gardens, with great views of the McGillacuddy Reeks, have been set out and will be spectacular when in full flower. Not all the ground is given over to the ornamental planting. They will be growing their own salads and vegetables, mostly under cover, and Ailish hopes to have some on the menu in Heather in the coming summer months.

The bright and spacious restaurant, set alongside the River Loe, is a great spot to start or finish your tour of the Gap or before or after any of the many walks in the area. Here you will be well fed with the best that the artisan producers of Kerry and Cork provide.
Gorgeous Hake dish.
And if you want a genuine local drink, then that is what you’ll get. You can sample the craft beers by Mountain Man Brewing, the lovely ciders of Stonewell and some smashing apple juice drinks from the orchards of Ballyhoura Apples. It is open from 11.00am until 6.00pm daily, telephone 064 6644144.

Other suppliers include: Toonsbridge Buffalo Mozzerella, Kenmare Gouda, Ballinskellings Chicken, Glenbeigh Cockles and Mussels and Ring of Kerry Lamb. The menu is a name dropping of who’s who in local artisan food producers as well as being something of a geography lesson!

The menu for Heather comes on a brown paper, reminiscent of the old brown paper bags, and it takes quite a few sheets. Watch out too for the daily specials. And they also do a Kids Menu that includes half portions of the adult dishes. 

Lots of non alcoholic drinks too. Teas from Barry’s and Solaris (Galway) and Skelligs Chocolate Hot Chocolate and coffees specially roasted for Heather. The wine list may be short but again the quality comes through. And not just the regular varieties. You can of course have your Sauvignon Blanc and Rioja but maybe you'd like to try the Gruner Veltliner (Austria) and Zinfandel (California).

Deserved dessert!
We “worked” our way through the menu on Tuesday and it was a pleasure from start to finish. I enjoyed my Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad, with orange, fennel and fresh as could be garden leaves (€8.00) while CL was more than pleased with her Smoked Mackerel Salad that came with Candied Beetroot, Rhubarb Chutney and Rye Croutons (€7.50).

We were tempted by the Spring Lamb Stew (€15.00). In the event, CL choose the Wild Atlantic Hake, with red peppers, fennel and Salsa Verde. The Hake was fresh, just out of the Atlantic, and the whole combination was light and appetising. Really superb.

She was very happy but I must say I was thrilled with my quiche. This was a rather special, almost melt in the mouth, quiche, described as Wild Nettle and Feta Quiche, with Parmesan, Mixed Garden Leaves and, yes, an outstanding homemade Tomato Chutney. I could go on about this but will simply recommended that you do try it if you get the chance. My mains cost €12.50 while the other was fifty cent less.

We had walked for over an hour in the Gap earlier and so felt we deserved dessert, one each this time! We got a generous slice of an Orange and Cranberry cake and another of Rhubarb Tart and two cups of Maher’s coffee to bring the curtain down on an excellent lunch in lovely surroundings.

Comfortable too and spacious and some nice touches, such as the elevated glass fronted fire (not in use on Wednesday!), the exposed stone on one section of wall and the sally saplings craftwork backlit feature that rises up the full height of its wall. This was crafted, the saplings still young enough to be pliable, by a local man and Ailish says it has already become quite a talking point.

Indeed, the Heather Restaurant, in a stunning location and with high quality cooking and presentation of the best of local produce, looks all set to become a talking point itself.

Other posts from this trip to Killarney:

See my full Kerry portfolio here