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Restaurant Review - Capricho @ Bayview Hotel

Restaurant Review - Capricho @ Bayview Hotel

Wednesday 19 June 2019

“June is bustin’ out all over”, to quote the rambunctious song from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s famous musical Carousel. While we may not all be leppin' about in flouncy 50s style skirts, one thing which has remained the same down the years, is that, when summer hits, we all love being by the water with lots of great seafood.

A frequent visitor to East Cork, I popped over recently to beautiful Ballycotton village, which overlooks Ballycotton Bay and its stunning lighthouse. The Cliff Walk here is epic, as is the heroine of the area, the restored lifeboat, the RNLB Mary Stanford, whose most notable shout was the 80-hour Daunt Lightship rescue in 1936 for which the Coxswain Patrick Sliney received a Gold Medal for gallantry.

Endless views
There are a few pubs doing food, including The Schooner, and The Field Kitchen in the beer garden of the Blackbird at weekends. Skinny’s Diner also has a lovely garden. It was Sunday afternoon and we were starving, so we headed to Pier 26, a dinky pub and cool restaurant by the harbour, only to find that they didn’t do pub grub on Sundays and that the restaurant was full that night.

So, we went up the road to the Bayview Hotel, which has a stunning terrace with endless water views. It opens seasonally, and it’s the only hotel I know where you are guaranteed a seaview bedroom – there are no back rooms. Anyway, from the bar menu, we had a fantastic sharing plate of smoked salmon and Dublin Bay prawns (€24), which was so good that we booked for dinner in their Capricho restaurant the following night, which was also fab.

The chef here is somewhat under the radar in the shouty show-off social media cheffy stakes of today, but Kieran Scully is well known and respected amongst his peers as a superb performer who also teaches our next generation of chefs at the Cork Institute of Technology. Classically trained, Scully is a man whose food is top-notch on all levels.

No bones about it
Starters (€9.50-€12.50) had pig's head & rabbit terrine, pickled wood-mushrooms, and prune & Pedro Jimenez puree; while Roscoff onion & Rebel Red broth came with Hegarty’s cheddar and toasted sourdough. Inch House black pudding was grilled and paired with an onion mousse, Young Buck Cider & onion syrup with an oat crumble. I love ray (€12), or skate as it is also called, so that was a no-brainer for me. Straight off the boats, and removed from the bone, it’s long skeins of flesh were seared on the outside, retaining its moisture and succulence, complemented elegantly by long fingers of creamy salsify, with fine shreds of rhubarb adding a tart sweetness. Brendan had an equally impressive Moroccan-style starter of slow roast lamb breast (€12.50). The mouthwateringly tender rectangle of lamb was cooked with honey and thyme, and dressed with cauliflower florets, ras el hanout puree, walnut dukkah, and velvet cloud sheep's milk yoghurt.  

Mains (€22-€28) included pan-fried monkfish with romesco and toasted almonds; beef short-rib braised in Beamish, salt-baked celeriac, with roast Roscoff onion and wild mushrooms; chicken breast with ballantine of thigh; and a chargrilled 10oz sirloin with the works. Pan-fried fillets of John Dory (€28) were superb, served with chargrilled leek, Jerusalem artichokes, chive oil, and a lovely bowl of new potatoes. Brendan had confit duck legs (€19.50), falling off the bone as they should be, with long-stem broccoli, creamy cabbage and a sweet sour element added with Con’s Cider jus.

By the balls
Ice-creams and sorbets were €3 a ball – a great idea – while Tipperary or Cork cheese plates – another good regional idea — were €12. We shared a ‘sweet’ — a superb presentation of hazelnut semi-fredo, hazelnut chocolate caramel, salted caramel ice, hazelnut foam and Guinness ice-cream (€9.50).

There’s an excellent well-priced wine list with wines by the glass from €7 — although you can push the boat out, pardon the pun, with a bottle of Dom Perignon Vintage 2000 (€289). We had a delicious, rich and honeyed Meyer Fonne, Pinot Blanc (€38) which, with service, brought our bill to €131.45.

Bliss by the sea.

Bayview Hotel,
Ballycotton, East Cork.
Tel: (021) 464-6746

First Published In The Sunday Independent