Grub Spy: Fish and sips

This cool, calm eatery offers (mostly) tasty fish and oozy puddings — as if you needed another excuse to visit Kerry

The elegant decor

The welcoming exterior

Grub Spy Alan KellySunday World

When you feel the need to escape, to take a deep relaxing breath, or want to enjoy the best craic in cool bars and restaurants, Kerry is yer only man. Not that other counties haven’t lots to offer as well — but in my humble opinion, few parts of our green and pleasant land are blessed with such a variety of holiday riches.

Families come here for the beaches and the fun; nature-lovers come for the wildlife; cyclists are very happy with safe open roads and beautiful scenery. There are amazing walks in Killarney National Park, luxury glamping for city softies, and most invitingly for us, some of the best places to eat in the country.

QUINLAN & COOKE 3 Main St, Cahersiveen, Co Kerry Four stars Food: €104; Drinks: €32

Nowhere is this better demonstrated than with Quinlan & Cooke — a cutesy boutique hotel, bar and restaurant on Cahersiveen’s main street. Talk about laid-back and relaxing, the latest heatwave is getting bothersome, so we plonk ourselves down with a G&T in hand — with lots of places to choose from, from the bar and the courtyard, to the dining room.

Suitably becalmed, we peruse a short, unfussy and pleasingly fish-heavy menu. And behold, in the middle of the starters, an all-time favourite of ours: fish tacos.

The welcoming exterior

So many places make a complete hames of these little beauties. Not here though. Two deep-fried chunky fingers of hake in a light crispy beer batter, enclosed in floury tortillas with red cabbage slaw and topped with homemade guacamole and sour cream. They are deliciously right on point. The Boss loves her plump and juicy Atlantic prawns served with cornbread and cooked ‘pil pil’ style with smoked paprika, garlic, olive oil and chilli. Both are lip-smackingly tasty. We’re off to a flying start.

When a kitchen knows what it’s doing with seafood, the end result can be heavenly. My turbot main course with caper butter is cooked to perfection and tastes gorgeous. It is also, sorry to say, petite in size and costs a whopping great €32.50.

No size problems with the poached fillet of organic salmon with a blob of creamy dill sauce — hearty and scrumptious and exactly how all salmon, wild or farmed, should be cooked and presented. Both dishes are accompanied by sides of boiled baby spuds, carrots and broccoli. A tad boring and maybe could do with some jazzing-up, but tasty enough.

Desserts are a slightly mixed bag. Genuine care has been taken with the cooking of the sticky toffee pudding. Deep, dark and richly unctuous, dressed with gooey butterscotch, and bursting with flavours of date and chocolate. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it is possibly the finest sticky toffee pudding we have ever tasted.

Less attention was paid to the crème brûlée, however. It certainly looks the business, and tastes good — just crème and brittle burnt sugar — but unfortunately, it hadn’t set properly. Still, it’s the only thing I can find to quibble about.

After an exhausting drive in sweltering heat, we couldn’t have found a better place to recharge the batteries. So regardless of how nice it is outside, I think we’ll just kick back with another G&T.

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