Showing posts with label dining. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dining. Show all posts

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Kinsale Hotel & Spa. A Hidden Gem With Stunning Views.

Kinsale Hotel & Spa. A Hidden Gem With Stunning Views 
Room with a view

In 1837, Rathmore House, the seat of J. Thomas Cramer,  was " a handsome mansion embosomed in flourishing plantations”. The house is no longer there but the splendid Kinsale Hotel and Spa far exceeds anything that Mr Cramer would have offered his 19th century guests. Set in the midst of 90 acres of Rathmore parkland, with terrific sea views, this hotel is truly an eye-opener, a hidden gem, and one that deserves to be better known.
20 metre pool

Now, with the previous staff enlivened by a new management team, renovation is ongoing and there is a spring in the collective step, according to Aoife Lohse, Sales and Marketing Manager, as she gave me the tour starting in the spectacular lobby.

The team here are happy to cater for weddings of any size, from 40 to 240 in the magnificent Rathmore Suite. And don’t forget they have an outdoor option as well, used as recently as May 4th for a civil wedding. And remember it doesn’t have to be a wedding. Any large function, even a party, can be accommodated here.
One of the terraces, with another just above

Weddings though are well suited to the hotel. There’s a covered walkway for the bride and groom to use on arrival. And, with those 90 acres, there’s no shortage of scenic places to take those photos. “It is a one shop stop,” says Aoife.

When you book a room in the Kinsale Hotel, you are sure of a view. On one side, you’ll wake up to the sights and sounds of running water, a beautifully landscaped area on a steep slope between the main building and the lodges (more on those later). On the other side, there are splendid views over the Oysterhaven inlet.

And the rooms are excellent, from the Classic through the Executive and Superior to those extra-spacious and supremely comfortable Suites. Something for everyone, for couples or families. The Classic sleeps up to 2 adults and 2 children and has everything you need for a truly relaxing break away. 
The woodland view

The other rooms will have more equipment, better views over the bay perhaps, but all are excellent with something in the range to suit most budgets.  Besides, the Kinsale offers Accessible Rooms giving you the same level of luxury, complete with peace of mind. These  are designed for wheelchair access and feature accessible bathrooms to ensure that you're comfortable and secure during your stay.

In addition to the hotel itself, there are some twenty self-catering lodges in the grounds, quite close to the hotel and reached by a covered walkway (you can do B&B if you prefer!). These are very family orientated, very popular for extended family gatherings and also for hen parties. The lodges are of various sizes and are being refurbished.

If the fully equipped gymnasium is not enough for you, or if you find all the gear too daunting, why not take a walk in the grounds. Lots of space in  the 90 acres of parklands and over 5 kilometres of paved walkways.

Like a swim? You’ll enjoy the amazing 20 metre pool here. It’s got a huge window running on one side with great views out over the countryside and the inlets. And the sauna and steam room are among the most generously proportioned around. The facilities here are very popular and the gym and leisure centre has some 700 members. There is also a fully equipped Elemis Spa, quite an experience, from initial contact through the various stages and finally the rest room!
Preparing for a wedding

The Rockpool Restaurant has been renovated recently. Those of you who have been there previously will be amazed with all the light streaming in from the side windows, the effect enhanced by the fact that the old partitions have been taken down. You’ll have great views as you look out those windows.

And some tasty stuff to look at on your plate also. A new dinner menu was launched just last week. Snacks include some tasty small plates ranging from a Chicken Kebab to an Oyster Bay Open Crab Sandwich. Starters include choices from Kinsale Bay Mussels to Oysterhaven Bay Scampi.
Enjoyed this lunch dish (Wild Atlantic Hake)

They offer quite a range of main dishes. The fish lover is well catered for with Wild Atlantic Fillet of Hake, Monkfish Fillet, maybe the Oysterhaven Bay Fish ’n Chips. No shortage of meat options either with Wagyu Beef Burger, rack of Irish lamb and Steak listed. You’ll also find Salads, Curry, Chicken Supreme, and a Homemade Vegan Burger.
Sautéed Chicken Salad at lunchtime

And you’ll have dessert, Of course! Pick from the Mango Banoffee Pie, the Raspberry Belgian Chocolate Ganache Tart (I’ll have that, please), the Almond and Pistachio Cake, the White Chocolate Cheesecake and the spectacular Kinsale Hotel Signature Sundae (maybe I’ll have that!). Choices galore.
Lemon posset

The corporate side is very important here and they have great relationships with local firms whether for entertaining, team-buildings (they have their own private beach) and more. They have not just one heli-pad, but two.

Lots of complimentary onsite parking for the motorist too! All the bedrooms have WiFi, Saorview TV, Tea & Coffee making facilities, Iron & Ironing Board, Elemis Spa at Home products and 32” flat screen televisions and more. 

The hotel not alone has lovely surroundings but is very well located, close to the airport and the city, on the doorstep of Kinsale and its renowned food culture, and West Cork is just a short drive away. So much to see and do in this area.

The Kinsale, as Aoife saysm, it quite a one-stop shop: Weddings, Spa, Girl's Getaway, Corporate, Family Breaks, Health Club, Active Retirement Breaks, Dining. Check it all out at 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Introducing Chef Stuart Bowes at Barnabrow

Introducing Chef Stuart Bowes at Barnabrow

 Experienced Scottish chef Stuart Bowes is the new Head Chef at Barnabrow House  in East Cork and owner Geraldine Kidd introduced him to the media last week. Later Stuart introduced himself with a smashing dinner.

But first we met in the smaller kitchen of the big house, Geraldine’s own kitchen! She told us Stuart spent six years training at the Michelin starred Chapter One in the UK before embarking on a trip to Australia where he broadened his experience before coming to Cork to work in the Orchids restaurant in Hayfield Manor. He joined Barnabrow last June.

While doing a little demo in the kitchen, Stuart told us that “preparation is vital...helps get consistency..whether your group is 20 or 120.”

 While demoing his Rabbit dish that we would so enjoy later on, he spoke of a new experience at the wedding meals in Barnabrow, the shared platter, which we would also see later. “We give the couple the choice and so far two have taken the shared platter. The reaction has been great and we hope to do more with it.” Many see the platter as a good ice-breaker.

Having talked the talk, Stuart walked the walk, starting us off with Cork-a-leekie! That Scottish classic was given an East Cork twist by the proud Scot with Dan Aherne’s organic chicken and leeks from Barnabrow’s own walled garden.

Some of my tasty bits from the Shared Platter

Conversation was now flowing and that flow was further enhanced as the shared platter was passed around. The wines too were flowing and they also were top notch. I could go on and on with the superlatives but I think I’ll just let you have a look at rest of the menu now. Top produce and a top chef meant we were in foodie heaven for the very enjoyable candlelit evening meal.

Food to Share:
Platters of Barnabrow’s home smoked Mallard duck, Gulf stream oak smoked salmon, Rosscarbery’s free range pork, pistachio and cranberry terrine, jamon Serrano.
Barnabrow’s home grown and home pickled artichokes, roasted and marinated beetroot and garden leaves, Olive Hallinan’s Cloyne Goat Cheese accompanied by hazelnut dressing, fig puree, aged balsamic and Barnabrow basil pesto.
Homemade rosemary and onion focaccia, hot crusty bread rolls.
Wine: Domaine Emilian Gillet 2009 from Burgundy.

 Bitter Sweet Sorbet:
Gin and pink grapefruit sorbet tanged with their very own organic apple jelly, married with fresh cucumber.

Main Course:
Loin of East Cork wild rabbit, poached and roasted, with a pithivier of rabbit leg, Cloyne quince, Barnabrow walled garden spinach and 8 Degrees Ale jus.
Wine: Paddy Borthwick Pinot Noir 2010.

Coast meets culture. Stuart’s parfait of Irish Atlantic sea salt and caramel with Green Saffron spiced marshmallows and Valrhona chocolate sabayon.
Wine: Château Joly Cuvee Jean.

One magnificent meal. Perhaps the humble rabbit provided the highlight but then I wouldn’t want to miss either the Shared Platter or the Dessert. Great stuff, thanks to Geraldine, to Stuart and their lovely staff.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Randall’s Court. A Star in Killarney.

Randall’s Court. A Star in Killarney.
National Park
Randall’s Court was my base for a recent two night stay in Killarney. Must say I was really impressed with this four star venue. Not just with its location but with the room, the staff, and the service all the way from check-in to check-out. There is some parking up by the hotel but there is an ample under-ground car park just off the road
Heavy duty curtain
 The room was top notch and so too were the well heated public spaces, no shortage of comfortable chairs and lounges. The dining room, split in two, is marvellous, really eye catching. And all over the hotel, there are paintings (even a mural in one part of the dining-room) and objects of old furniture that also catch the eye.
Hotel Terrace and view

Smoked salmon breakfast
Killarney is well situated to do the Ring of Kerry and is not too far away (75 minutes) from the fantastic Dingle peninsula. The hotel, just a few minutes’ walk from the town centre, is quite close to the National Park and its many lovely walks.
 Didn’t get to eat dinner here but did enjoy a terrific meal in the Dromhall, the sister hotel next door. Breakfast though gave a good indication that quality and service are high here. You had everything needed for an excellent breakfast, hot or cold, even a mixture, and no shortage of friendly smiling people to help you ease in to the day.
Just in case!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel

Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel

 Called into Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel recently and enjoyed an excellent evening meal there. Was staying at the adjacent Randle’s Court and strolled over on a Saturday for a 7.00pm reservation and got a warm welcome. Soon we were comfortably seated and enjoying the rapport with a very friendly and helpful staff.

Started off with their €7.95 Signature Salad ((described as Fresh herb salad, sun blushed tomatoes, pine nuts (missing), crisp croutons (missing), roasted peppers)) with a Balsamic dressing and Char-grilled chicken added. Very enjoyable indeed, also quite substantial, and didn’t really notice the absence of the pine nuts and crisp croutons.
 Then onto to the Plat Principal, the Grilled Irish Prime Beef fillet (€26.95) served with champ potato, garlic butter, and crisp onion rings, and sautéed mushrooms. Not to mention a side dish of gorgeous seasonal vegetables. The steak was excellent, done to perfection and to order.
 Dessert? Well why not? Hung for a sheep as... Each cost €6.95 and the one I picked was the Lemon Tart (a lemon flavoured chilled crème anglaise on a sweet pastry base). Just the sweet job, delicious.

Had been sipping a bottle of a pleasant South African Merlot (Libertas 2010 €24.50) all the way through and finished off with a pot of green tea before heading downstairs to the bar and the music. Enjoyable evening all round in a highly recommended venue.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fabulous Fleming’s

Fabulous Fleming’s
Foie Gras
Enjoyed the most perfect dinner in Fleming’s  last week. Game, as you know, is now in season and featured on the menu. But there was so much more besides.

Eileen and husband Michael, now an Award Winning Chef Patron with vast experience, took over the Georgian building in Tivoli in 1989 and gradually set about restoring it while at the same time building up a restaurant. Eileen took us to our table in one of the two comfortable rooms that combine to make a lovely dining space.

From quite a range of tempting starters, CL choose the Foie Gras, served hot with Timoleague Black pudding, glazed apple and Pineau de Charente Sauce. Ate a lot of Foie Gras in the Dordogne a few years back but nothing to match this!

I too enjoyed a very special starter: Roast stuffed saddle of rabbit with a plum compote and a light grain mustard sauce. Rabbit, tender and tasty, never tasted like this before.

We were up and running to a very high standard. Shouldn’t have been surprised. Michael: “I’m not media –focused. I’m kitchen –focused.” But he is highly regarded by his fellow chefs and you may read a bit about him here.

While waiting for the mains, we were treated to a couple of surprises. One was a Cappuccino of Wild Mushroom and the other an eye catching Champagne Sorbet with passion fruit and a sweet balsamic.


Now we were ready for the Plat de résistance, not that there was any resistance. I went for the Roast Loin of Venison, poached pear, venison sausage and a port sauce. Just perfect. The Loin was medium as requested and spot on, so tender and falvoursome, while the sausage provided a contrasting texture, all enhanced by the pear and gorgeous sauce, not to mention a glass of the smoothest Tempranillo from Navarre.

CL too enjoyed contrasting textures with her Roast Duck Breast and Duck Leg Confit, compote of fresh orange and a Grand Marnier jus. What a brilliant combination, every element cooked to perfection. Another prefect dish!



 After all that, CL was thinking she’d have a light dessert, perhaps the first one that featured fresh fruit. Quelle surprise! We just weren’t prepared for the stunning plate that came to the table as the Sabyonne des Fruits was presented. It is an Italian dessert of Fresh Fruits with a glazed Sabyonne, sweet Sauterne wine and Grand Marnier. Gorgeous even if the egg yolk made the mix a little more filling than anticipated!

Mine, if anything, was somewhat lighter than expected but I wasn’t complaining as I spooned in my Warm Rich Soft Centered Chocolate Fondant with Crème Anglaise and Vanilla Ice Cream, all the while sipping a little Champagne as did my partner in crime!

 And so a fantastic evening in a fantastic place came to a lovely end. With Eileen heading the team, service was friendly and so well timed all through. It is a lovely space with comfortable chairs and heavy linen on the tables and with, the fantastic cooking of Michael and his team, you won’t be disappointed. If you want the best in town, this is the place to go!

* See earlier post on Christmas specials at Flemings here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oysters. The Clarion's New Dining Gem!

Oysters. New Dining Gem in the Clarion!

 Oysters  is a welcome addition to the Cork dining scene and not just because it specialises in fish. It has taken the place of Augustine’s in the Clarion Hotel. Service is friendly and efficient and most importantly the food, fish and otherwise, is top notch.

Made my “debut” there the other day and must I was well pleased with the €35.00 menu (see bottom) which is served from 5.30pm to 7.00pm. Started off with a Tomato and Herbs shot, an Amuse Bouche that brought the appetite to attention.

My second course was also something of a tease. The sea-bass tartare was lively and tasty and left me looking forward to more.  While CL was delighted with her Crab, we agreed that the Sea-bass was a better choice.

Then it was on to the soups. Well, they came in gorgeous soup bowls but were much more than soup. CL had the Chowder and thought it brilliant. And my Velouté struck the spot with the first sip. Both five star dishes!


Now down to the serious stuff, the main course. We both went for the Fish of the Day, in this case cod, a beautiful well cooked wedge, quite substantial too. The Boulangere Potatoes was a tasty stack, lighter and healthier than Dauphinoise and just as impressive, while the Baby Gem stew and the delicious broad beans really demonstrated what a chef can do with a sauce without resorting to cream and butter. The whole dish was a thoughtful blend and a delight to dispatch, not that we rushed it one little bit.
No rush either with the dessert, just a decent pause. CL picked the Strawberries and, oh boy,  was she happy. Presentation was delightful and that fact that the berries were served at room temperature enhanced the experience.

I choose the Cheeseboard, despite the rather stiff fiver supplement. It was good, very good, a well judged mix: Hibernian (from Fermoy), Wicklow Brie and Cashel Blue and some really nice bits and pieces on the board as well.

Friday, July 13, 2012

NASH 19: Cracking lunch!

NASH 19: Cracking lunch!

Hadn’t been in for a while and it was great to see the Nash 19 crew in top form when I called in for a midweek lunch. It just gets better and better in this central Prince’s Street venue. The smiling service is as bright and efficient as ever and, hard to believe, the food is probably even better. What a lunch: from a menu of great variety, I enjoyed three courses of the highest standard.

Take the hake I had for my main course. That fish must have been dripping from the Atlantic when he arrived in Nash 19 that morning. Such freshness I have rarely encountered.

Then add in the magic from chef Pamela Kelly. The Castletownbere hake was presented on a Saffron and Prawn Risotto with a sprinkling of Kelly magic, including grapes, pineapple and balsamic, endowing the gorgeous flesh with a light and scrumptious touch. Influences of the Med, maybe Asia. Wasn’t really giving that much thought. Too busy eating.

I have enjoyed some tremendous fish dishes in France and Spain over a recent four week holiday, dishes where the fish was king and the other bits and pieces were used to enhance that status. It gives me the greatest of pleasure to say that the Nash 19 hake was as good as any of the Basque creations.

Dessert was another highlight. Here some of the freshest raspberries from Con Trass’s Apple Farm had been included in a gorgeous Mille Feuille, layers of sweetness and the juice of the berries. Might not be a great summer but this was a sunny delight.

The meal had started off well with the Fish Chowder, another class offering, and the wine was a French Sauvignon Blanc by Les Jamelles, crisp and tart and fine with the fish. A couple of coffees at the finale and two happy diners joined many more leaving the busy Nash 19, meeting many more that were coming in.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Top restaurants announced at
The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants 2012 in association with Santa Rita

Santa Rita People’s Choice Award goes to
Pichet while Derry Clarke scoops the
Santa Rita Chef’s Chef of the Year Award

Pichet has been announced as the winner of the Santa Rita People’s Choice Award at the launch of The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants 2012 in association with Santa Rita, the must-have annual guide to the best eating out destinations in Dublin.

The Santa Rita People’s Choice Award ten most popular restaurants in Dublin, as voted by the public, are as follows:

  1. Pichet
  2. The Exchequer
  3. Junior’s
  4. Chapter One
  5. Eatery 120
  6. Dillinger’s
  7. Jo Burger
  8. Dax
  9. Saba
  10. The Trocadero

Each year, chefs and restaurateurs nominate the Dublin chef they most admire and this year’s Santa Rita Chef’s Chef Award goes to Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivain. Honourable mentions included:

·         Ross Lewis, Chapter One
·         Kevin Thornton, Thornton's
·         Padraic Hayden, Camden Kitchen
·         Dylan McGrath, Rustic Stone

The Dubliner 100 Best restaurants, in association with Santa Rita, which is now in its 10th year of publication, features a host of dining options across the capital, including fine dining, casual eateries, family friendly venues, local favourites and hidden gems.

Copies of the 2012 guide to the 100 Best Restaurants are on
sale in bookshops across the country.

100BestCover (2)

Sallyanne Cooney, General Manager of Gleeson’s incorporating Gilbey’s, which distributes Santa Rita wine in Ireland, says:

Santa Rita, the leading Chilean wine in Ireland, is delighted to be associated once again with The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants guide for the tenth year running. The ‘Santa Rita People’s Choice Award’ continues to be the most sought after accolade for Dublin restaurants, as it is voted for by the public – the toughest critics of all! We’d like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Pichet, Derry Clarke and indeed the 100 Best Restaurants in Dublin for 2012

Monday, November 7, 2011


RICHY’S BISTRO in Clonakilty

It’s bright. It’s lively. It is Richy’s Bar and Bistro on a Saturday night, great food and a great buzz.
Always something of a buzz here in this cafe/bistro. The cafe is a favourite daytime venue for locals and visitors alike. It is part of town life with its children’s cooking classes and coffee mornings for charity.
The food is local too and top notch and very much in demand. On our visit, quite a few of the specials had already been snapped up but we did have a fine meal with courteous service and no shortage of friendliness or efficiency.
My starter was a gem: Clonakilty Black Pudding Samosas, yoghurt, cumin dipping sauce, cucumber and chilli salad (7.95). Hadn’t come across this variation before and it got me off to a terrific start.
The mains was hardly as inventive but was just as well cooked and just as satisfying: Roast Staunton’s pork rack, Spiced colcannon mash, caramelized apple, roast root veg, sage and apples jus (€ 22.50).
The dessert was a well made classic: Sticky toffee pudding with Mauritian vanilla ice-cream, butterscotch sauce (€ 6.95).

All these came from the A La Carte but they also do other menus, a new tapas Menu on Friday nights, a €57.00 Menu for Two including a bottle of wine, 2 and 3 course set menus, a Children’s Menu and more. Check them and the drinks list out here.

Talking of drinks, I spotted that one of reserve wines had been reduced from 35 to 28 euro so I’d said I’d have some of that. I’m glad I did as the French Domaine la Colombette Pinot Noir 2010 was an excellent wine and really went well with the pork.
So good food, good drink and lively atmosphere. Highly enjoyable. Highly recommended.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


The Cork Restaurant Marketing Group has announced a Gourmet Weekend for next weekend, something of an upgrade on the previous promotion Dine in Cork Week.
But the hard–working group are not stopping at that and last Thursday, in the Rising Tide, they announced the launch of Dine Out In Cork, an annual magazine to highlight the more than twenty restaurants that have banded together in the project..
It is designed to promote Cork as not only the Food Capital of Ireland but also as a food destination from abroad and will have a wide circulation, including hotels and tourist offices.
Spokesperson Sylvia Meulmeester told me there are plans for a Cork International Gourmet Week next year, following the success of the Cork Gourmet Trail. The proposed week-long event would incorporate the promotion of Cork city as a dining experience.
The magazine is being finalised at present and is due to be published on December 1st. Before that Sylvia will be working on the imminent Gourmet Weekend. Details and recipes (and competitions for tickets) will be published here
The Rising Tide’s Sandra Murphy (right) proved a gracious host. The apprentice star was in tip top form and so too was the kitchen that supplied us with tray after tray of really classy canapés.
Sandra will be hosting a Hired or Fired Dinner Party (7.00pm) this coming Monday (7th) and that should be fun, and good value too: three courses, a glass of wine and the Apprentice on the telly ( from 9.00pm), and a hostess with the inside track, all for €20.00.