KERRY

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS -

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.

Idás Restau­rant

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.

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