Before leaving for Ireland, I was told several times that I must visit Kinsale (Cionn tSáile), because it is regarded as something of the foodie capital of Ireland. Visit I must, then, because who doesn’t like good food?
My husband and I spent much of our last full day in Ireland in and around Killarney, but our hotel for the night was next to the Cork airport from which we would fly home the following morning. Lucky for us that Kinsale would make a perfect dinner stop on the way from Killarney to Cork (by way of a little detour to the coast).
Hoping for a good restaurant and knowing little to nothing of Kinsale eateries, I referred to my handy-dandy (wouldn’t recommend unless you just want “highlights”) travel guide, “Discover Ireland” by Lonely Planet: Fishy Fishy Cafe is “[a]rguably the best seafood restaurant in the country….” How could we pass that up?
Arriving in Kinsale, we parked in Market Square. At the opposite end of the square stood a whitewashed building with striking red doors and a cupola. I also really liked the anchors and the big, reddish, metal bouy-thingy. Turns out this is the Kinsale Regional Museum and one of the anchors is from the Spanish Armada’s failed attempt to aid the Irish at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601.
an appropriately-themed weather vane on top of the Kinsale Tourist Office,
We arrived at the restaurant in the early evening (I think it was just before 6pm on a Tuesday), but reservations were booked for the evening, so we accepted the offer to dine in the bar. The airy bar’s French doors were open, allowing for a nice harbor breeze. The hostess and bartender/bar server were friendly and just the right amount of attentive.
At the recommendation of my travel guidebook, we started with the cold seafood platter. (We’d already eaten several slices of tuna, so I replaced the cilantro salad on top of the remaining tuna slice before taking this photo.) We enjoyed every bite.
For the main course, my husband had monkfish with mushroom risotto and veg, I believe (excellent…he was kind enough to share a few bites), and I had turbot with salsa verde, mashed potatoes, and asparagus. Our fish was fresh tasting, generously portioned, cooked properly, and well-complimented by the various sides. A note about the salsa verde: I expected the “verde” to be from tomatillos and green chilis, but it was actually a blend of herbs such as parsley, so an unexpected yet “fresh” compliment as opposed to the anticipated piquante one.
I would recommend Fishy Fishy Cafe (with a reservation or arrive very early), but go with reasonable expectations. We had a very good meal in pleasant surroundings with quality service, but living up to the label of “arguably the best seafood restaurant in the country” was like watching a really good movie after someone told you it was the best movie EVER!
We had a really pleasant evening in Kinsale, but we saw just a small slice of what the historic and picturesque town has to offer. We now know that Kinsale deserves so much more than just time enough for a dinner stop. Why must Ireland be so wonderful?!