Grub Spy: Less is Tramore

Grub Spy Alan Kelly dishes the goods on Ireland’s tastiest dining destinations

Inside the elegant diner

The exterior

Some of the tasty fish dishes

Being closely connected to my favourite little Fish Shop on Benburb Street, Dublin, I had promised myself a visit to their seaside sibling the Beach House in Tramore for quite a while.

BEACH HOUSE Turkey Road, Tramore, Co Waterford Four stars Food: €111; Drinks: €35.50

Eventually, on a glorious sunny Saturday evening, I made it to the seaside town. Located on the cellar floor in a Victorian townhouse on Turkey Road, Beach House has that special kind of nuts-and-bolts seafood vibe that always appeals to me. It also has an engagingly short menu (eleven dishes in total) all created, apparently, for diners to share. It looks like we could be in for a memorable meal.

There isn’t a lot to get right when curing fish. First and foremost you need the freshest possible fish. Sitting in a splash of fragrant olive oil with slivers of mint and celery is a mound of soft near-translucent pieces of sweet Gurnard. We tuck-in and thoroughly enjoy. It’s impossible to eat mussels, clams and cockles without creating a mess. It usually a roll-the-sleeves-up-with-elbows-on-the-table event.

In Beach House a heavenly pool of fishy broth completes a small but tasty little feast. They know a lot about fresh pasta here, and spider crab, and rich velvety buttery sauces. We demolish the lot with gusto. The best dish so far. A close-run second is a petite fillet of exquisite turbot accompanied with a blob of creamy mash, a side of wilted greens and more of that gorgeous buttery sauce.And now for dessert.

On holiday once in Bath, I tried Christmas cake (minus the marzipan and icing) with some crumbly stilton. While it might sound like an odd combo, it tasted sensational – hugely filling, but truly sensational. The Beach House version includes a scrumptious slice of barn-bracky fruit loaf, a delicious wedge of Carraignamuc semi-hard cheese, and a splodge of red onion chutney. While the creamy cheese works amazingly well with the richness of the fruit loaf, it’s the sweet and tangy onion chutney that brings this unusual ‘dessert’ to a whole new flavour level. I have no idea know how we also manage to finish a delectable slice of rhubarb upside-down cake with custard – but we bravely soldier on.

Unquestionably the food and the service at Beach House is of a high standard. At first glance the sharing plates idea sounds cool. It’s not re-inventing the restaurant as we know it, it’s just a different approach and Mediterranean-like fun. And we do so enjoy the experience. And yes, I would also have no problem with a re-visit. Ok then. That’s all the favourable up-sides.

On the down-sides, for me personally, I think the food is a tad overpriced. In fact I don’t think I’m being unduly critical when I say paying €24 for a small bowl of mussels, clams and cockles is over the top no matter how delicious they might be. For me it just doesn’t add-up, guys.

In a certain very well-known fish restaurant in Kinsale, where you get an equally tasty but far bigger portion, it’s over a tenner cheaper. Having said all that, provided your wallet can stand the strain the Beach House is still worth the trip.

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