Lucinda O’Sullivan’s restaurant review: The Stables Brasserie & Bar offers ‘well-priced, high-end casual food in a stylish setting’
Heading to Killarney recently, I diverted to Kenmare to have lunch in The Stables Brasserie & Bar, a new addition to the dining facilities at the five-star Sheen Falls Lodge in Kerry, about which I’d heard good things.
heen Falls Lodge has been the millennials’ darling for a number of years now but I didn’t quite realise the extent of its history and was amazed yet again, but not surprised I guess, as to how the very best of Ireland’s lands were gifted by the British establishment to their henchmen.
In this case, 3,500 arable acres in Kenmare and Tuosist parishes was handed over by Oliver Cromwell to one William Petty, who meticulously oversaw Cromwell’s survey of Ireland.
It was the world’s first detailed mapping of a country, facilitating our lands being confiscated and transferred to Cromwell’s soldiers.
Nowadays, King Charles III sits on the British throne, but in 1661, King Charles II subsequently knighted Petty and gave him the remainder of Kenmare and Tuosist parishes, some 270,000 acres of southwest Kerry.
His daughter Anne inherited the lands and her marriage into the local Fitzmaurice family resulted in her husband Thomas becoming the first Earl of Kerry. He built Sheen Cottage as a fishing and hunting lodge at Sheen Falls, the site of the present-day hotel.
Flash forward a few centuries and the hotel is now in the hands of Singapore-based Dr Stanley Quek and Peng Loh, who last year also added Castlemartyr Resort to their impressive Irish portfolio, which also includes Trinity Townhouse Hotel in Dublin, plus the recent acquisition of the Ring of Kerry Golf Club.
The Stables Brasserie & Bar is a great addition to Sheen Falls Lodge. It’s a big, bright contemporary space serving well-priced, high-end casual food in a stylish setting with appropriate service — friendly but professional.
Starters and salads (€7.50-€13) included the ubiquitous seafood chowder of potatoes, leeks and smoked haddock; chicken and ham hock terrine, piccalilli and sourdough; and wild mushroom arancini.
Rena kicked off with an excellent Waldorf salad (€13) lavishly imbued with endive, celery, grapes, apple and Cashel Blue cheese vinaigrette.
I had cod beignets (€12.50), well presented and contrasted as a circle of five crispy golden balls, each sitting in a pool of crab mayo interspersed with wedges of cool pickled cucumber, topped with a round of radish and a sprig of greenery. Very nice but perhaps a tad heavy on the potato element, which made it hard to get any flavour from the fish.
Mains (€16-€50) offered a very good selection for all pockets and desires, from posh fish and chips to sole meunière for fishophiles.
On the carnivorous side, think beef burgers with smoked Gubbeen; sirloin, fillet, and rib-eye steaks; Tournedos Rossini with shaved black truffle and Madeira jus; Rosscarbery pork tomahawk; or a rump of lamb.
A delicious bowl of hand-rolled tagliatelle (€18) for Rena was with peas, mushrooms, truffle oil and aged Parmesan, while I had a second starter of melt-in-the-mouth Thornhill confit duck leg (€12.50) set on an excellent fennel and coco bean cassoulet.
We passed on desserts (€7.50-€10) which included a Valrhona chocolate fondant; a classic tiramisu; vanilla crème brûlée with a sable Breton; and raspberry sorbet.
They also had affogato, the popular Italian coffee with a dollop of ice cream, at €6.50. Headed on to Killarney, we were feeling revived and relaxed after the long drive down.
As you may gather from this restaurant’s moniker, it’s quite separate from the main hotel building, so very accessible for non-residents. Wine by the glass or bottle was available from €7.50/€30, plus non-alcoholic wine at €6/€28.
Our bill, with bottled water (€5) and excellent service, came to €68.
The Stables Brasserie & Bar, Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare, Co Kerry.
Tel: (064) 664-1600 / sheenfallslodge.ie
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