The most south-westerly region of Ireland, County Kerry is often described as the most beautiful and scenic area in the country. Kerry is also one of Ireland’s best gourmet destinations. Here is our pick of the top 10 restaurants in County Kerry.
Located in the Killeen House Hotel in the picturesque Aghadoe, Rozzers Restaurant overlooks the famous Lakes of Killarney, a renowned area of natural beauty. An establishment at Rozzers for more than 15 years, the restaurant’s head chef Paul O’Gorman has used the local environment and flavors to design a menu that is critically acclaimed. Highlights include starters of fresh oysters, or slow-roasted pork belly served with rillettes of confit duck leg, main courses of pan-seared medallions of monkfish, or roast rack of Kerry lamb with a basil and pinenut crust, finished off with a dessert of tangy lemon tart. For a really luxurious evening, diners can splash out and order the Chateaubriand, or a Dingle Bay lobster from their fresh water tank. With culinary delights such as these, Rozzers Restaurant fully deserves the many awards and accolades it continues to receive.
Bar, Diner, Restaurant, Irish, Seafood, European, $$$
Situated on the Ring of Kerry in the small fishing village of Cromane is Jack’s Coastguard Restaurant. The former coastguard station dating back to 1866 now functions as a restaurant, but still remains an important part of the community. Its location is the only place in Kerry where you can view the McGillicuddy Reeks and the Brandon range of mountains at the same time. Jack’s Coastguard Restaurant specializes in seafood, but they can whip up a tasty Kerry rack of lamb or fillet of beef too. From Thursdays to Sundays, resident pianist JP Murphy accompanies diners with ambient music, creating a memorable dining experience. After a delicious meal, diners can also pop into the Station Bar for a traditional pint and an animated atmosphere.
An offshoot of the famous Quinlan’s seafood business, QC’s Seafood Restaurant and Bar in Cahersiveen has been serving locals and visitors quality seafood dishes since 2000. Owned and run by husband-and-wife team Kate Quinlan and Andrew Cooke, QC’s features ultra-fresh seafood as well as daily changing blackboard specials. Popular favorites include their Valentia crabmeat and Quinlan’s smoked salmon on QC’s brown bread, their sizzling ‘Dingle Prawns’ and the baby squid. In 2010, the enterprise expanded to include a townhouse, offering quirky boutique accommodation, and in 2012 QC’s was named the BIM Seafood Restaurant of the Year, as well as winning a number of other accolades ever since.
Founded by two brothers Niall and Brian Ó Conchúir from the Gaeltacht, west of Dingle, An Canteen uses only the freshest and highest quality seasonal local ingredients to create their menu, even growing its own organic vegetables in a polytunnel. Open in the evenings, An Canteen is situated in the heart of Dingle town, and has been praised by visitors and critics. The menu features traditional dishes with a modern twist, such as the 16-hour Kerry braised beef with a red wine and beef gravy, and the Dingle Bay hake with lemon coriander butter, a confit tomato, a bacon shallot mashed potato and a salsa Verde. These dishes are complemented by local craft beers and a lively atmosphere.
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Bricín Restaurant and Boxty House, Killarney | Courtesy of Cellar One Restaurant
A joint venture of brothers Johnny and Paddy McGuire, Bricín Restaurant and Craft Shop has become a firm favorite in Killarney since it opened more than 20 years ago. Its name is the Irish for ‘little trout’, and is also the name of a little stone bridge in Killarney National Park. The restaurant’s traditional vibe is evident throughout the restaurant, from the timber and stone decor, right down to the menu. Their Killarney boxty, which is like a potato pancake, is a house speciality, and Bricín offer a number of variations, including beef, fish, duck, and vegetarian options. After feasting on these delights, it’s imperative to leave room for one of Bricín’s homemade desserts of sticky toffee pudding, and their popular pear and almond tart.
The main dining area of The Ross in Killarney, Cellar One restaurant caters for every palate and time of the day. At breakfast, Cellar One has a fresh and welcoming atmosphere; in the evenings, Cellar One dims the lights, and an exciting buzz fills every corner of the place. The menu includes culinary treats such as a starter of spinach, rocket and strawberry salad with candied walnut and crispy fried goats cheese, main courses like baked prosciutto wrapped hake, and dessert like their melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding. The ambiance at Cellar One is contributed to by the restaurant’s innovative design, the focal point of which is a stainless steel and glass curved staircase. With subtle lighting, color furnishings and vaulted ceilings, an evening at Cellar One is one to remember.
Another firm favorite in Kenmare is the award-winning restaurant No 35. Local ingredients are at the heart of the culinary creations that feature on the menu. They are carefully sourced and prepared by proprietor Dermot Brennan, head chef Joe Ryan and his team of skilled chefs. The menu is a fusion of European dishes with an Irish twist; these include Moroccan tagine with Kerry lamb, simmered slowly in spices, served with cous cous, cucumber and mint yoghurt, and Cashel Blue Cheese, leeks, pine nuts and thyme pizza. This exterior, clad in local hand-cut limestone, as well as the interior comprising exposed timber beams, stained glass windows and open fires, make the atmosphere at No 35 warm and inviting.
For those who prefer the fresh taste of Irish fish right from the Atlantic Sea, Out of the Blue is the place to eat. This year marks the restaurant celebrating its 12th year as one of Dingle’s best seafood-only restaurants. The menu is constantly changing here, depending on the daily catch – if there is no fish caught, then the restaurant doesn’t open. Head Chef’s Jean-Marie Vaireaux and Eric Maillard aim to create tantalizing dishes through the use of local ingredients. These include the seafood chowder, oysters on the half shell, chargrilled tuna mini-kebabs, chargrilled john dory on the bone, and pan-seared scallops with flambéed calvados pineapple and chilli salsa. The vibe of Out of the Blue is casual, with the menu written on blackboards.
Housed in a historical building dating back to 1832 is Kenmare’s landmark restaurant The Lime Tree. The premises were originally built by Lord Lansdowne as his estate office, and during the famine of 1845, it was used as a centre which provided free travel for starving land tenants to journey to America and other countries. From the 1860s until the 1970s, the building was used as a school. Many local diners received their education there. Now a restaurant, The Lime Tree’s menu is crafted from carefully sourced local ingredients, from fish straight out of the Atlantic, to lamb from local farmers. Chef Patron Michael Casey and wife Gillian create dishes that amplify these local flavors. The restaurant has been continuous in winning awards and accolades, as well as new customers.
Located in the small town of Castlemaine, the Phoenix Restaurant is an artisanal vegetarian retreat. The brainchild of Lorna Tyther, the Phoenix is the culmination of her lifelong fascination with food and flavors. Using local produce, as well as vegetables and herbs from the kitchen garden, the menu at the Phoenix includes gluten- and dairy-free dishes such as caramelized carrot and onion Dahl, which is flavored with coconut and lime. There are also grilled artichoke hearts and a tangy cracked pepper and lime hummus. Not only does the Phoenix provide wholesome food, but there is also creative accommodation available in the form of ‘glamping’ in traditional caravans. For an all-round cultural experience, the Phoenix also features local artwork, live music and is a venue for holistic workshops.