DEASY’S HARBOUR BAR & SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Ring Village, Clonakilty, Co Cork, 023-883 5741 ¤¤¤ Deasy’s won the location lotto with its harbour-side perch, on a winding road out of Clonakilty. From the outside, Deasy’s looks like any other country bar – step inside and it’s a whole other kettle of fish. Fish – and how its cooked – is part of what makes Deasy’s special, along with the incredibly warm welcome and the kind of atmosphere you see on a Fáilte Ireland ad, roll your eyes at, thinking “it’s not like that in real life”. Chef Caitlin Ruth could probably sit on the roof and cast a rod across the road to catch her own fish – and it tastes as fresh as if she did. Korean fish cakes (¤8.95), fat lumps of assorted fish, not a breadcrumb or potato in sight, are sweet and delicious, with a spicy carrot salad and umami-heavy dip. Squid, perfectly slow-cooked in red wine (¤8.95), takes on a deep, rich almost meaty flavour, with a bite of pecorino. The wine list has lots of suggestions for something a little different, though we end up playing it safe with a 2012 Domaine Seguinot Bordet Chablis (¤34.50). For mains, monkfish with celeriac puree and a punchy chilli and anchovy dressing (¤28.95) is very good but a hake dish is better – a fat fillet, golden topped and flaky, sitting on a creamy leek risotto with a plate-lickingly good smoked pepper oil. A 12oz sirloin from O’Neill’s farm down the road (¤28.95) is that rare pairing of an excellent piece of meat cooked so well a regular knife slides through, releasing a slice into a sea of pepper sauce. Desserts include a rich chocolate pecan torte with flashes of salted caramel (¤6.95). This is a must-visit if you’re in the area.
LETTERCOLLUM KITCHEN PROJECT
22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty, Co Cork, 023-8836938, lettercollum.ie ¤ A beautiful blue-fronted food haven in the centre of Clonakilty, Lettercollum is the brainchild of Con McLoughlin and Karen Austin, who have a Victorian walled kitchen garden in nearby Timoleague. They use their organic produce to create some seriously delicious food for the shop in town. “Life-changing bread” is a dense, sweet slice of nutty, seedy goodness; there’s a selection of savoury tarts (¤3.95 a slice, whole tarts from ¤9, ¤18 and ¤28) – one with a sweet, sticky Pissaladière filling of caramelised onion with tomato, goats cheese and olives is the winner when we visit. There are top-notch pizza slices (¤4): A slab of smoky house made chorizo and sweet potato pizza has us coming back for seconds. Salads (¤3.95/¤4.95) are fresh and punchy, sweet treats include Pastéis de Nata, those addictive Portuguese custard tarts (¤1.50). You can get are take home meals, such as moussaka and Goan curry (¤6.50/¤6.95) and the shelves are heaving with hard-to-find ingredients: preserved lemons, kimchi, sauerkraut w fennel , sheets of nori. Cooking classes are run by the owner Karen Austin, who also published The
Lettercollum Cookbook (¤21) late last year, a collection of some of her finest recipes. Available in bookshops or from the Kitchen Project website.