There are so many reasons I love being home in Cork. We all know that I extoll the virtues of Irish food ad nauseum, but a significant role is played by the stunning countryside and coastline on which my daily life plays out. I think, growing up in a place makes you almost immune, or at least complacent, to the positive attributes a place can have. It wasn’t until I left here that I began to see what so many people across the world appreciate and long for. We really are blessed with our lot here in Ireland (despite the rain!)
When the sun shines in Ireland, it can really be magnificent.
While London is full of exciting and vibrant food that changes at an unbelievable pace, there is something so comforting about food in and around West Cork, Kerry and all along the Wild Atlantic Way. Food businesses here focus on using the wonderful produce from the region to create simple, wonderful dishes that showcase how lucky we are here with quality of our food.
There are businesses that have barely changed their menus in 20 years and yet people keep flocking back. I often find myself wondering about whether it is tradition that brings these visitors, amazing food, or a combination of the two? I think the stunning scenery has no small part to play in so many locations but it certainly is not the only factor.
Here are a few of my favourite places along our beautiful coastline:
Monks Lane, Timoleague:
This unassuming little spot in Timoleague was mentioned to me on more than one occasion as a must try if I was “down that way”. I am so glad I took that advice up. What looks like an old Irish pub from the outside is actually a fresh and vibrant restaurant with the most wonderful courtyard and food celebrating West Cork.
Its perfect for a long lazy lunch in the sunshine or a celebratory Sunday lunch. I think what I loved most about this spot was the fabulous service. I am rarely blown away by service in Ireland but the welcome, efficiency and friendliness of all the staff was really outstanding.
West Cork Platter
For food, I had a West Cork produce platter and it was superb. Local crab, Gubbeen chorizo and a delicious smoked salmon all stood out. My other half had fish and chips, which is something he orders whenever he sees it on a menu and reported that this dish was up there with the best of them.They have the perfect balance between keeping things simple and trying out new trends on their menus but all to great effect. Seriously worth a visit, I may even drive down west just to eat here!
Hayes Bar, Glandore:
This place is all about the views. Well that and the seafood, and maybe good pints too! Glandore is a tiny village that comes alive during the summer months with the population swelling as a result of city dwellers vacations! I spent a very happy few months teaching sailing here a good few years ago and loved every minute of it!
The view from the main village is nothing short of stunning and that is one of the big advantages here. Hayes’ sits on top of a hill which folds away into the sea and out towards Adam and Eve Islands.
Hayes’ is all about seafood for me. Open prawn sandwiches, crab sandwiches and my favourite: the seafood platter. Lots of other options include delicious croque monsieur, soups and salads.
La Jolie Brise, Baltimore:
This is certainly a favourite due to nostalgia. It is one of those places that I have eaten at every time I have gone to Baltimore since I was a child (Which is a lot since my parents met and got engaged in Baltimore and we used to spend lots of childhood summers sailing Roaringwater Bay!)
La Jolie Brise sits above Baltimore harbour and is the perfect spot for watching all the goings on in the bay – People watching on a grand scale is ok by me!
It is primarily a pizza restaurant but once again seafood is a feature of the menu. For as long as I can remember, my mum has ordered a seafood pizza topped with fresh prawns and mussels. My favourite is the four cheese pizza, while my new husband has taken a liking to the pepperoni – fried egg and all! All accompanied by chips. They may not be the best pizzas or the most authentic but for me, this is my favourite pizza spot. The view aint bad here either:
Bushes Bar, Baltimore:
Last but by no means least, you cant help but find Bushes Bar in this town. This cosy little pub is the heart of the village and is the meeting place for all and sundry after a long day on the water (or even to plan your day over coffee!) On a wet night, piles of waterproof gear is shoved in the back of the bar while everyone laments the weather over pints. On a sunny day, well:
Although the food here is simple, it is perfect, West Cork fare. Soups, chowders and the ubiquitous toasted special are all tasty and straightforward. Food and pints with a view, what more could you want?