Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Killarney for Foodies

I have been to Killarney a few times but for some reason have never actually used it as a destination for good food - a mistake I rectified last week. A wonderful friend, Eithne O'Connor, invited me down to go to her favourite restaurant and I am not one to say no to find new restaurants... so I made my way to Killarney on a Thursday morning.

Having heard so much of Miss Courtney's Tearooms, I had to pay them a visit. Located int he town centre, the tearooms are easy to find and with their lovely front invite you come in. Miss Courtney is in fact Sandra Dunlea and she had the right idea in my eyes. I love tearooms - but they have to be old-fashioned. I love old china, tablecloths and loose tea.... all that is Miss Courtney's. Ok, let me gt the negative point out first: the staff is letting this lovely gem down. When I entered I was greeted by a sign, please wait to be seated. In a room full of empty tables still a bit of a no no for me. But I am obliging and waited. One waitress was right in front of me serving a table. The very young girl looked at me but no smile, no 'I'll be with you in a moment' and even when the guest at the table couldn't decide what to order, the girl ignored me. So, adventures as I am, I took matters into my own hands and walked right into the tearoom and chose a lovely spot in the rear at the window. And I was in heaven...... I sank into an old armchair that reminded me of my nan - fond memories I can ensure you. The menu is short and the pages of tea outweigh the  lunch menu. Each tea is explained with country of origin and what was special about them. No Barry's teabag in sight. Since I had a dinner coming up that night, I didn't want to eat too much so opted for the waffles - oh my god, they were enormous - the biggest waffles I have seen in ages. They came served with cream and maple syrup. The tea, I opted for Earl Grey, came in a silver pot, the milk in a china pourer and the sugar candy was picked up with an antic sugar lifter. Closing my eyes, I was set back to good old times - even the music was matching the atmosphere. Pure bliss. The walls are a light pink (no worries guys, it is just a hint), tablecloths on the tables, old black & white photographs and mirrors in lovely frames make this tearoom a place to relax and enjoy a 'proper' cup of tea. The array of cakes seems to be endless and the slices served are as big as your eyes will be when you have to make a choice. Only suggestion I would have, give the staff a nice uniform (I personally don't like to see sleeveless shirts in the food business) that mirrors the period of the tearooms and a bit of training will go a long way.

So, now to dinner....... Eithne told me a bit about Trevaud's before but for some reason, I didn't do any research on them. A big mistake. The restaurant is located in High Street and its yellow front just invites you in. I arrived at 8pm and the restaurant was buzzing - on a Thursday night a good sign for things to come. The menu is not over complicated and they name the food as it is - no dictionary needed. The service was personal and I had the feeling that I came to visit friends instead of a business. Eithne and I started chatting - the glass of Cava helped a lot - and we weren't pushed to order. The very attentive staff kept an eye on us and when we looked up to order, someone was there to take it.

The restaurant is run by brothers Paul & Mark Trevaud and the emphasis is on great food and great service - sounds simple but as other restaurants have proved, hard to achieve. Paul as front of house makes it look effortless while Mark in the kitchen puts his stamp on wonderful ingredients. The menu was so interesting that it was hard to choose.... Eithne opted for the slowcooked pork belly as a starter - a dish with moist pork, beautifully presented while I couldn't say no to the rustic tomato soup which came drizzled with pesto and scattered cheese over it. Rustic meant chunky and for once, I loved a soup that had bits in it. My mum would have said, it taste like a tomato should taste. For mains, we were in trouble - so many good sounding dishes... although the menu is not overcrowded, the choice is hard. Finally, Eithne went for the bakes hake that came with a curried beurre blanc - a nice hint of curry, hardly there went so well with the hake that you could believe they were married. I was not able to choose between the pumpkin lasagne and the forrest mushroom risotto.... so I was offered a combo.... I was in heaven. The pasta for the lasagne, I learned was made by the chef..... he could be Italian for all I know rather than being a hardcore Kerry Man. The lasagne was cooked perfectly, the sweetness of the pumpkin went so well with the tomato based sauce mingled with cream and mild cheese.... I was in heaven.... but hey, we still have the risotto...... these days, loads of people say they are using wild mushrooms and you wonder where the taste of mushrooms went on vacation - not here, the risotto was perfectly cooked, not too hard, not too soft and the mushrooms gave the rich, dark earthy flavour they are suppose to have.

Paul recommended a lovely bottle of white Rioja - a perfect suggestion as it was light enough not to interfere with the fish but strong enough to handle the mushrooms.

Desserts???? I don't know as we were both happily full and skipped the dessert in favour of a drink afterwards in the pub opposite to the restaurant. But here is the funny part - Paul Trevaud is a YouTube star with his own cooking channel - he even appeared on the Saturday Show once to talk about his 'hobby' to cook at the most crazy locations, may it be on top of a tree cooking a quail, or top of a snow-covered mountain in his t-shirt. I will definitely be back soon - this restaurant makes Killarney a destination for foodies - I am sure there are more but I think Trevaud's is unique.

I was in so deep conversation that I even forgot to buy Paul's book that was available in the restaurant. I was just wonderful to chat to Mark after the service about his love for good Irish produce and how he takes care of the ingredients to give his diners the best flavour of each. I think we bored the rest of the people still in the restaurant but if you get me started on Irish food and its producers, there is no stopping me. Thank you to Eithne for introducing me to this wonderful restaurant and to Paul & Mark for an amazing dinner experience.

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