archives of the library.
Café Joly is tucked away in a corner room on the ground floor, one of the few rooms not given over to books and records. Named after Dr Jaspar Robert Joly, who donated his private library to the Royal Dublin Society in 1863, the café is run by Brownyn Bailey and Michael O’Malley. They source Irish cheese, pates and charcuterie to serve on boards alongside their homemade soups, tagines and sandwiches.
They make and source everything fresh on a daily basis, meaning that they can often run out of food by around 4pm. This is a good sign – until you turn up hungry at 4pm that is. It means you could miss out on their daily soups, which can include chicken and thyme (¤6.50) or spiced courgette and fennel (¤5).
Sandwiches are on ciabatta rolls and are stuffed full of Irish ingredients, such as Knockadrinna Ewes cheese with spiced clementine jam (¤6) or Mcloughlin’s corned beef with horseradish and baby beetroot pickle (¤6).
You can opt instead for one of the tasting plates, such as the selection of On The Pig’s Back terrines, toast and relish (¤9.50) They offer a hot dish of the day, too, which could be a beef and cider stew or a tasty tagine, and priced at around ¤9.50. They do a popular Cup and Crust lunchtime deal of a half a cup of soup and half a sandwich for ¤6.70.
They don’t have WiFi, making it a terrible place to get some work done and a wonderful place to get away from your daily strifes and struggles. It can be deliciously quiet in off peak times, and is most certainly off the beaten track.
John Street Dingle Co Kerry facebook.com/idasrestaurant € Dingle is not short of good restaurants, with stellar seasonal and year-round choices from local stalwarts such as Out of the Blue and The Global Village. Last year, Idás Restaurant joined this fine company when they moved from their original premises in the Gaeltacht town of Baile na nGall to John Street in Dingle. The chef at the helm is Kevin Murphy, and it’s his great-grandfather, whose local nickname was Idás, whom the restaurant is named after. Murphy trained as an artist but found his way into cooking, a self-taught chef whose love of local becomes clear at a glance at his menu.
The standout dish on our visit is the seared scallops with braised pork cheek and kale, smoked garlic sauce and Pomme Annas (¤29). Everything about this dish works. The pork is slowcooked and sticky with flavour, the kale sweaty with pork jus and the scallops caramelised yet soft and plump. The Pomme Annas, a kind of butter battered spud, are outlandishly delicious. The confit of wild halibut (¤32) is a simply stunning dish, with Glenbeigh mussels seeped in buttermilk resting artistically on the pieces of fish, surrounded by sea vegetables.
The broth of foraged land and sea vegetables, wild herbs and Ballyhoura white beech mushrooms (¤8) is a bit disappointing. I applaud its dashi base and relish the flavour of those Cork grown Ballyhoura mushrooms, but the Carrageen seaweed in the broth is too slimy in this context for me. The overriding taste is the bitterness of the gorgeously thick, green leaves that float in the dashi, whereas I was hoping for a more umami-based experience. Still, it’s one of the most interesting starters I’ve had this year and is pleasingly evocative of the wildness of this restaurant’s locality.
I’m intoxicated by the potential of the dessert of fennel poached pear, lemon and honey meringue and the restaurant’s signature nasturtium ice cream (¤9). In the end, though I enjoy the dish, I don’t get enough fennel from the pear and the meringue is powdery rather than my personal preference of gooey interior and crisp exterior.
I love how Idás menu reflects what’s happening in Ireland’s food landscape today, with its sincere emphasis on foraged, local and wild ingredients. For a town that cares about food - a collective passion evident in the success of the annual Dingle Food Festival (dinglefood.com) and the enthusiasm of the Dingle Cookery School (dinglecookeryschool.ie) – Idás is another strong calling card of the standard that the Kingdom of Kerry has to offer visitors and locals alike.