We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

north west england
Level Contributor
3,558 posts
475 reviews
Save Topic
A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

Just back from a week staying in town and wanted to report back. A summary might be that we enjoyed it (in spite of the rain) but wouldn’t be in a rush to go back.

Kinsale is very much a tourist town. And particularly popular with American tourists. There were so many that it was, almost, a surprise to walk past someone on the street and hear an Irish accent. As with any tourist place, it isn’t “real”. For real Irish towns, you need to get in the car and drive a few miles north to Macroom or west to Clonakilty. Here you are almost as likely to hear Irish not English being spoken.

It’s also an expensive place. I know it’s always invidious to make comparisons between different countries but by any European reckonings, Kinsale is pricy. Property is pricy. Eating out is pricy. Booze is pricy. And, as with any tourist place, you need to watch out for the tourist traps. The same two drinks (pint of lime & soda and a half of Murphy’s) varied from just over €4 in the non-touristy Armada bar, through just over €6 in the Blue Haven, to an eye-watering €8.20 in the very touristy An Seanachai bar.

Kinsale is also the self-styled “gourmet capital of Ireland”. The important bit to remember here is “self-styled”. It might have a high number of restaurants for a large village. And it may well have been the gourmet capital in the 1980s, when the term was first coined, and indeed it may still be the case (which, unfortunately, would say a lot about food in Ireland). However, it will be very fair to stay that for many of its restaurants, dining in Kinsale has barely progressed in the last 25 years. Chicken liver pate and deep fried Brie still feature as starters on many menus, as do such main courses as steak with pepper, or other “classic, sauce.

But this is not to say that we did not generally eat well. Generally we did. We generally ate good quality ingredients, cooked simply and cooked reasonably well. This is a brief summary of the meals we had (I’ve posted much more detailed reviews at www.menupages.ie):

BLUE HAVEN: A restaurant with pretensions in the town’s “boutique” hotel. It clearly targets the Americans and they would find familiar touches uncommon in most European places – jugs of iced water being brought without being asked, soup available in “cups” as well as bowls – that sort of thing. But it was sloppy uncaring cooking that delivered the two of us very little pleasure for the €108 charged.

FISHY FISHY CAFÉ: Café” is a misnomer. The name and it’s location on the pier road suggested that this was going to be an upmarket chippy like the Magpie in Whitby. Not so. This is a serious seafood restaurant (in the recent past holding a Michelin Bib Gourmand). It’s open at lunch (although on a couple of days of the week it stays open long enough to get an early dinner). Reservations are not taken but there was only a few minutes wait for a table. It wasn’t bad and one main course was excellent. However, it just isn’t as good as it likes to think it is and isn’t going to get its Bib Gourmand back based on our lunch experience.

JIM EDWARDS: A long standing restaurant mainly serving steaks and seafood. And has probably served the same dishes for the last 25 years. Steaks were fine but nothing there with a “wow” factor.

LITTLE SKILLET: Small restaurant on Main Street. And another where almost all the customers were American. And another where their claim to be part of the “gourmet capital” just doesn’t live up to the hype. Nothing was good here. Starters were very poor. One main was a smoked salmon platter which is hard to mess up – but they tried by serving tartare sauce with it! The other main of port and porter casserole was bland and boring.

MAN FRIDAY: At last! A restaurant worthy of “gourmet” claim, even if some of its dishes were in a 1980s timewarp. “Classic” steak in pepper sauce. Fabulous mixed seafood platter. Excellent accompaniments. Good dessert. And under €100 for the two of us. This is the place to come if you can’t get a reservation at the next place mentioned.

MAX’s: Michelin mentioned and rightly so. It’s a “stand out” from the rest offering an interesting menu and several specials (mainly seafood). We hadn’t booked but, arriving at 8pm, got the last remaining table. One starter of chicken livers on potato cake. The other, three scallops each with a different sauce. One main of oxtail pie (on the bone). The other of lobster in garlic cream sauce. Most expensive meal of the week at €109, including drinks,coffee. If you only have chance for one dinner in Kinsale, make it here.

TODDIES: Modern restaurant above the Kinsale Brewery. Good main courses – lobster risotto and chicken. Desserts were just nasty. Not at all good value at €78.

If you’re self-catering or just need good food for a picnic, then the small Farmers’ Market on Tuesday morning is excellent. It’s held on Short Quay – and there’s also a good deli further down the road, with a great selection of local cheeses.

As an aside, probably the best meal we had was lunch down the coast at Castletownshed in a pub called Mary Ann’s. Fabulous fresh local seafood.

I hope this is useful to someone and, as I mentioned, there are full reviews on all the places mentioned on www.menupages.ie

Mentioned in this post
Macroom
Macroom
County Cork, Ireland
Clonakilty
Clonakilty
County Cork, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland
Europe
Man Friday
Man Friday
804 Reviews
Kinsale, Ireland
Rotorua, New Zealand
Level Contributor
82 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
41. Re: A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

I have thoroughly enjoyed the banter this report has generated. Thank you! Far better than Wimbledon! I found the contributions informative too, even though I missed those that have been deleted. Is this political correctness entering TA?

I shall be in Kinsale in a couple of weeks for 2 nights so shall see (and hear) for myself. I go with an open mind and heart, ready to enjoy legendry Irish hospitality. Looking forward to delighting in plenty of seafood.

Any accommodation recommendations?

G

Rotorua, New Zealand
Level Contributor
82 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
42. Re: A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

Thank you one and all for the banter this posting has caused. Better than Wimbledon. However, it seems that TA is becoming a little politically correct. I am going to Kinsale in a fortnight's time for 2 nights and your comments have helped me, especially when looking for restaurants. I shall approach my visit with open eyes (and ears)and look forward to some legendary Irish hospitality.

Any hotel recommentations?

G

Rotorua, New Zealand
Level Contributor
82 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
43. Re: A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

Sorry, folks, my answer didn't seem to have been posted first time round so I re-did it.

County Clare...
Destination Expert
for County Clare, Aran Islands, Bunratty, The Burren
Level Contributor
8,421 posts
34 reviews
Save Reply
44. Re: A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

Glenda - those that know Kinsale well may not be following this thread at this stage, so maybe start a new thread?

I stayed in the Trident and Actons a long time ago, and they were absolutely fine - probably better now.

If you end up in the Trident, some of the rooms have terrific views with massive windows.

Have a look at the reviews here on TA.

cork
Level Contributor
270 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
45. Re: A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

To help with accommodation - what type (i.e. hotel, b&b, self catering) and price range are you looking for?

Michigan
Destination Expert
for Saint Joseph
Level Contributor
991 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
46. Re: A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

Glenda, We stayed at Woodlands B&B in early June and loved it. It is up out of the busy downtown in a nice quiet neighborhood. Great view of the bay from the front lawn. Brian and Val served our favorite breakfast of our trip. Hope you are lucky enough to have great weather like we did. Kinsale is a lovely place to stroll around on a nice day.

Edinburgh
Level Contributor
60 posts
89 reviews
Save Reply
47. Re: A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

First, thanks to Harters for an excellent post. The wife and I are just back from a couple of days in Kinsale, and we used your post to choose our restaurants.

We had slightly different findings, but that's not surprising - different people have different tastes, and I've eaten in the same place and felt differently about it each time.

We didn't like the menu in Max's, so gave that a miss. Decided to try Jim Edwards and found it very good. Wife had crab claws followed by monkfish, I had baked mussels followed by lamb. The service was a bit slow though.

On the second night, we went to Man Friday's, and found it good, but felt they were trying a little too hard. Too much sauce, which wasn't necessary with the ingrediants they had. Incidentally, if you've walked out to Man Friday's, it's worth having a pint in The Spaniard which is very close by - lovely pub with a great atmosphere.

Finally, I'd agree totally about Mary-Ann's - fantastic place and well worth the drive there. I wish I'd gone there for dinner though, rather than lunch.

Mentioned in this post
Max's
Max's
599 Reviews
Kinsale, Ireland
The Spaniard
The Spaniard
550 Reviews
Kinsale, Ireland
jack on the hill
2 posts
Save Reply
48. Re: A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

well well well,great banther here,but i have to agree,fishy fishy is not as good as they think they are,when it was the old reataurant,food was fab all the time,now different chefs i supose as its much larger and open longer.

the skillet,mm,i know a few locals by now and non go there,so......

man friday,consistancy,maybe 80s but still good food.

blue haven,well in-consistant comes to mind,poor food at expensive price.

jim edwards,i put in same bracket as man friday,really should up date.

maxs,i like off season,its calm and chef i think spends more time on food,sometimes portions are a little mean,thats normal french,but its also true to say 5or 6 corse is also normal in france.he has a very good wine list but very pricey.

word of warning if you wish to complain,be prepared he is french!!probably the best restaurant in kinsale,but personally io like jolas,again pricey,but coming from outside ireland,they all are.

49. Re: A week in Kinsale - report back (mainly restaurants)

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 9:16 pm, October 04, 2009
Get answers to your questions about Kinsale
Recent Conversations