There is a cluster of eating places at the start of the square just a couple of hundred yards up from the hotel. Don’t miss the Brick Oven Pizzeria and Bistro. Yes, it has a genuine brick oven and you won’t find that in every Italian pizzeria.
Being in Bantry, we went for the Bantry Bay Mussels served in a Provencal style sauce, a beautiful “sauce” that required a big spoon. Salad and Fries accompanied the €17.95 main course version of this dish – you can also get it as a starter. Wine was a Blue Ridge Blanc from South Africa; this refreshing tarty blend of Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc cost €20.00.
The meal, including a couple of decent desserts, came to €68.00, more or less what we paid the previous night at The Snug next door. In the Snug you will get what we Irish call a “good feed”, not always the same as good food.
We had heard quite a bit about the Snug and, frankly, were very disappointed. Again, we went for a fish main course. If you can't get a goof fish dish in Bantry, it is bad news. Battered Cod, served with a salad and fries, was the other order.
I got a plate full, plus the chips in a bowl. The salad didn't impress. The potato salad had been plonked on the plate along with half a carton of coleslaw and a few leaves. The batter used was the old type heavy duty flour batter that smothered the fish, which was a pity as the cod itself, the forgotten about main ingredient, tasted fresh and good. They use the lighter beer or lager type batter in the Brick Oven.
The style of presentation was also evident in my starter, a crab meat salad (€10.00). Again a few lettuce leaves, undressed, were laid in the bowl. Then what looked like half a jam jar of meat was plonked down on it and it was finished off with a spoon or two of mayonnaise. Again it was a pity as the crab tasted very fresh and nice, aside from a few bits of shell that had not been picked off.
The wine list is limited, consisting of four quarter bottles (two red, two white) and four full size bottles. The meal consisted of two starters and two mains. It was a poor opening night but the Brick Oven made up for it.
We took advantage of the fine weather to visit two of the three nearby peninsulas. First trip was to the end of Sheep’s Head. There is a lovely little café there, everything homemade and we had two generous bowls of a well made soup (along with two brown scones), all for ten euro.
On the Mizen, we visited the cafe in the visitor centre where we got good quality and good value. Two chicken wraps, served with a nicely dressed salad (The Snug could take a lesson here) and a little bowl of relish, along with a big pot of excellent tea, came to about €13.00.
By the way, breakfast in the Maritime is top class; there is a big choice and good quality as you’d expect in a four star hotel. Their main restaurant is at the top end price wise but the bar serves good food at reasonable prices (less than what you’d pay in the nearly square) up to nine o’clock.